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Industry 5.0: automatised humans or smart machines?

Industry evolves at a very fast pace, and the next revolution is upon us. We bring you an approach to the next phase, Industry 5.0, with the essential information to understand where it comes from, what it is and how you can be a part of it.

Image by © Sawyer Bengtson  via Unsplash

 min read
Industry 5.0: automatised humans or smart machines?

Surprised by the existence of Industry 5.0? Weren’t we still immersed in Industry 4.0? How did it change that fast? What does it involve?

Keep your FOMO aside, we are here to help you understand.           

Industry 5.0 is here to give a twist to the widespread concept of Industry 4.0, giving it the human touch it was lacking. This extension of digitalisation and automation works towards going forward, not leaving human labour obsolete, but working alongside people to create a more resilient, sustainable, and human-centred industry.

If you want to know how this goal can be achieved, keep on reading as we break industry 5.0 down.

The positive disruption of Industry 5.0

The concept of Industry 5.0 appeared for the first time in 2017, in an academic paper on the symbiosis between humans and technology. The main point for denominating a new phase in industry came from the need to introduce humans into this extremely automated concept of labour that Industry 4.0 presented.

According to the EU, Industry 5.0 places the well-being of workers at the centre of the production process. The goal is to use new technologies and digitalise industries to boost efficiency and productivity, while respecting the production limits of the planet and creating a more integrated and natural collaboration between humans and machines.

This new concept of industry is not solely focused on economic profit, but also on creating an industry model that can positively impact society. It stands on three particular pillars.


Human-centric approach

People are assets and not resources. The organisation is meant to empower people and create an environment in which they can develop, and grow, and in which technology is their trampoline to create the added value that only people can bring. Robots are more consistent and precise, but they cannot compete with a person’s adaptability and critical thinking.


Search for resilience

A stronger industry is a more resilient one, as it will manage to overcome unexpected challenges. To gain resilience, it is important to anticipate potential problems, react and learn from them to acquire a certain degree of flexibility. It will not harm to create contingency plans to be as prepared as possible for situations such as resource shortages, wars, or other significant events that might disturb normal operations, like the Covid-19 pandemic.


Enhanced sustainability

The way to enhance industrial sustainability is to change perspectives: the goal is not to reduce your impact, but to make a positive one on the environment. In Industry 5.0 companies are part of the solution instead of the problem, implementing policies such as net-zero emissions.


What does it look like?

Until now, we have talked about a deeper collaboration between humans and machines, but let us see now what that means. Industry 5.0 focuses on research and innovation to find the ideal balance between both, in which technology impulses human talent to the furthest as still being led by human hands.

Technologies like AI, ML, big data, IoT, robotics, smart systems and many more are already integrated into industries, as Industry 4.0 aimed at a smart factory fully automated, but here is where Industry 5.0 comes to reshape the ongoing revolution.

The first step is to up-skill and re-skill workers to learn how to make the most of those technologies: they will not be able to reach their maximum potential without fully understanding the tool they are using.

Industry 5.0 might not seem as noticeable or revolutionary as the previous phases, but it is in fact a change in perspective. Now humans will be the focal point and technology will only be a tool, a powerful one, but a tool nonetheless to reach further than ever. Machines will be able to offer a more personalised experience both for workers and clients, and all the data collected will serve to a more efficient performance.

Talking about resources, this new approach works towards a circular economy, being efficient with resources and embracing innovations that can pave the way for getting there. Each company will choose their path according to its needs, but it can be reached through studying providers and analysing your product’s journey from beginning to end.

Once you find the most problematic issues, you will have your starting point to work towards a more sustainable process. Another approach is to reevaluate your complete process from the beginning and implement a new one that will benefit the environment rather than reduce your impact. Besides being beneficial for the environment and the improvement of quality of life, we cannot forget that, currently, sustainability is also a competitive advantage over other products, as consumers highly value it.


A new labour market for a new world

As we mentioned before, Industry 5.0 shifts the focus from economic to societal value, hence the shift in society that it will bring. Digitalisation and automation will change the labour market, destroying some positions but creating plenty more too. Mechanical and repetitive jobs will be obsolete and allocated to machines, so more technical profiles will be needed. It is recommended that companies start investing in their workforce to prepare them for these new roles.

New needs will call for new positions which will bring higher value jobs. This value will be for the client, who will obtain a more personalised experience, and for the worker, who will gain design freedom as well as more rewarding jobs and improved working conditions. The collaboration between humans and machines results in a more agile and flexible business with the potential to impact society for the better.

When we talk about Industry 5.0, we are not only talking about the manufacturing industry, as it includes every sector susceptible to digitalisation. Value can be created for an employee through technology no matter their sector and that is what makes this change of perspective so revolutionary.

Implementing this new mentality right now can mean a step forward in your business development, however, it will demand readjustments and training processes that might slow down operations. It is up to you to decide when you want to take that step and how to reduce temporary deceleration to the minimum.

Despite this temporary drawback, the long-term advantages will reshape and elevate your company. In the human sector, you will be able to attract and retain better talent with time, which will help you grow. You will be more sustainable in your processes, a win for everyone as well as beneficial for your competitiveness and finally, you will become resilient in the face of unforeseen circumstances.


Tips to get on the right track

If you want to anticipate and start enforcing policies and behaviours that lead your industry to fit in this Industry 5.0 framework, here are some pieces of advice to ease the way.

Before considering any change just because it is recommended or within a framework you want to adopt, you will have to analyse your procedures and current operations to identify areas that can be improved and how they might benefit from those changes. Each process and company are unique as well as their needs, and they should be evaluated as such.

It is risky to make substantial changes without solid proof that they will work, so you can always test it in a pilot project and proceed to implement it gradually later on a larger scale according to the result.

Once you know which changes will be effective and what areas will be affected, it will be necessary to outline a strategy that comprises specific goals and the way to reach them (budget, time limit, resources, workforce…).

These goals might require specific skills from workers and to ensure they can deliver, it would be smart to invest in their training around those skills and new technologies introduced.

This way, you will be able to benefit from the employees' knowledge and experience of the company in addition to the new skills they gained from training. The result? A smoother transition and better performance.

Remember that new technologies handle a vast amount of sensitive data, so when adopting them, you should ensure cybersecurity and data privacy during the whole process.

These are some of the most common steps when facing a big transformation, and just like with any transformation, the route will consist of observation, analysis, testing, implementation and monitoring. Besides the more general steps, you will need to take care of the unique and individual issues that might arise in your project.


We are just entering Industry 5.0 as this time it is about a change of perspective from the no-long-ago adopted Industry 4.0, so it is the moment to anticipate and react. Keep in mind that the new direction of the industry is human-centric, sustainable, and resilient but create your own path to get there when the moment is right for you.

If you want to be part of Industry 5.0 right now, check our opportunities at our jobs page and look for the perfect opportunity for you.