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Industry 5.0: opportunities and social impacts

Industry 5.0 intends to represent a new era in which technology and humanity merge harmoniously, creating a balance between efficiency and human values, aiming to develop strategies to build flexible and efficient production processes. What are the advantages for companies, possible problems and Italy’s role in the 5.0 transition?

How can you act on all the following fronts simultaneously? Increase operational efficiency, achieve greater flexibility in production, advanced product customisation and quality improvement, reduce production costs and environmental impact, achieve greater global competitiveness, improve occupational safety, create new high-quality job opportunities and accelerate technological innovation. The answer is Industry 5.0, a collaborative model that is part of the evolution of manufacturing industries and is based on the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and collaborative robotics to create highly digitised, flexible but also human-centred manufacturing environments.

“Industry 5.0” is the title of the report that the European Commission published in January 2021. Described as a “completion of Industry 4.0”, it is a cultural revolution that relocates industry to the contemporary world in which it operates. Industry 5.0 is characterised by a human-centred approach, in which technology, including advanced collaborative robots, serves to improve the quality of life of workers and citizens. Sustainability is another pillar, with a strong commitment to reducing waste and using resources efficiently. In addition, Industry 5.0 stands out for its resilience, with the ability to adapt quickly to change and ensure business continuity through advanced data analysis and machine learning.

There are six categories of enabling technologies for Industry 5.0: individualised human-machine integration; bio-inspired technologies and smart materials; digital twins and simulation; data transmission, storage and analysis technologies; artificial intelligence; and technologies for energy efficiency, renewable energy, storage and autonomy. These are the technologies that Industry 5.0 will harness to meet the new challenges dictated by society and the environment and to act as a driver of prosperity for all stakeholders involved.

Opportunities and social impacts arising from Industry 5.0

Industry 5.0 opens up a number of significant opportunities. These include continuous innovation in products and processes, the promotion of economic growth, the creation of new high-quality jobs, more sustainable production, the possibility to offer customised products on a large scale, improved occupational safety, the use of advanced technologies for worker training, and increased business resilience to better cope with market disruptions and emergency situations.

Conversely, there are also common fears such as possible job losses. Industry 5.0 might automate some so-called “routine jobs” but, at the same time, it would create new job opportunities that will require human-machine interaction. Industry 5.0 is the European paradigm on which Italy too is launching a major support programme to facilitate the 5.0 transition of the production system with investments of more than EUR 4 billion. Transition 5.0 is the move towards an advanced, technology-centred industrial model, where the adoption of digital technologies such as IoT, AI and robotics improves efficiency, sustainability and customisation of production processes.

This change also requires an overhaul of business practices and an increased focus on human needs. In essence, it is the step towards a highly digitised and future-oriented industry. Industry 5.0 aims to represent a new model in which technology and humanity come together harmoniously, creating a balance between efficiency and human values. It is a vision of industry that not only aims at productivity, but also at the well-being of individuals and respect for the environment. Unlike Industry 4.0, which was a true industrial and technological revolution, Industry 5.0 is above all a new cultural paradigm.

Source: Soluzioni di assemblaggio e meccatronica by Publitec

Read also: Circular Economy: what are the Benefits?
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