Since Covid-19 hit 3 years ago, it has affected everything we know from the economy, stock market, our educational system and even our personal-societal relations. However, one aspect that was not expected to be affected by the pandemic is the industrial field and manufacturers.
To fully understand why and how this happened, we need to elaborate on industrial revolutions. During ancient times, and yes I mean really old times, humans managed to manufacture objects for their own usage using basic tools. Around the 18th century a first major shift came to this primitive manufacturing process during the First Industrial Revolution (Industry 1.0). During this industrial revolution, the steam engine was introduced, which paved the way for the invention of the train. These crucial developments in transportation came as a result of the high demand for manufactured goods and so that manufacturers could best answer the high rate. Thus, the first industrial revolution was moved by the high rate of supply and demand.
And so and so on, industrial revolutions kept on emerging and advancing the machinery system in factories and ultimately achieving the number one goal, which is mass production. Later on, and because of the inconvenience of human body limitations, the computer and automation were introduced in the 3th industrial revolution, which primarily promoted the automation of manufacturing.
As a result, in the 4th industrial revolution, the human factor in the production line began to shrink. However, this advancement required the manpower to become more knowledgeable regarding these advanced technologies and about optimizing the automated processes. Since 2011, at the time when Industry 4.0 was first introduced, the focus of manufacturers was to include the newest technologies into their products and deliver Industry 4.0 principles into real production. This has been possible due to an unprecedented evolution of technologies that helped shorten the time for creating and launching of new products, for what? You guessed it, to answer the high rate of supply and demand.
So what is different this time with the 5th industrial revolution?
The term Industry 5.0 popped up several years ago as a reaction to the vision of Industry 4.0, mainly in 2017. Driven by the impact of the pandemic, the focus of the proposed 5th industrial revolution was on topics such as sustainability and resilience, and the call to put people more central again. So yeah, no more prioritizing demand and supply and mass production. This has become a subject policymakers and organizations increasingly pay attention to. The best way to describe it is “Industry 5.0 shifts the focus from shareholder value to stakeholder value and reinforces the role and the contribution of industry to society”. Thus, Industry 5.0 is characterized by the return of manpower to factories and by distributed production.
Frost & Sullivan wrote that:
“Industry 4.0 is primarily reliant on automation, which has frightened workers on manufacturing floors
Frost & Sullivan anticipates Industry 5.0 as the next big thing, which will bring empowered humans back to the shop floor. It is indeed not a coincidence that the attention to Industry 5.0 is accelerating now. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic increased digital transformation, it increased the focus on other challenges of our time and the importance of community, environment, and societal changes.
As part of my position as business development manager at Siraj technologies, I am exposed to new technologies in the Industry 4.0 sector and meet different challenges from a variety of sectors such as Industrial, Agriculture, Smart City, etc. Industry 4.0 technologies are developed by or for large companies, and therefore, they don’t answer the needs of the SMEs. Industry 4.0 leaders such as Schneider, Siemens, Continental etc. have fully adopted Industry 3.0, and adopted many technologies for automation and robotics.
From my experience working in such a field, I cannot assure that industry 5.0 is on the horizon yet. Yes, now there is a need for human cohesion more than ever, and yes, workers are frightened of the idea of digitization. However, the majority of manufacturers are still pushing towards automation and digital transformation. We simply do not have an efficient number of manufacturers adopting industry 4.0, so that we switch the attention back to the human force. We haven’t yet completely relied on machines to consider getting back to focusing on humans.
Furthermore, and unfortunately, SMEs are still adopting Industry 3.0 technologies. Many of them understand the benefits of remote operation and still have legacy machines that have no communication capabilities. Also, the desire to adopt predictive maintenance technology is unprecedented and yet when we look in depth, we find that there are no means of data collection or historical data which is crucial for creating a prediction model.
To sum up, many manufacturers are advancing into Industry 4.0 and we will probably hear more about Industry 5.0. As part of Siraj, we will keep working on increasing the adoption rate of Industry 4.0 technologies through our unique connectivity solution and help manufacturers gain the necessary infrastructure so they can integrate IoT solutions into their operations.