In today’s marketplace, regulatory agencies, shareholders, and customers have sustainability mandates and desires. To accomplish those mandates and desires, a manufacturer must address sustainability in a coordinated, integrated, and formal manner rather than in an uncoordinated ad hoc manner, which is quite common. So, rather than focusing on the sustainability aspects of one element of operations (waste reduction in production), there needs to be end-to-end scenario planning and strategic analysis.
Once the right strategy is set, that’s where smart technologies come in. A smart manufacturer can collect relevant data to measure sustainability-related parameters. The data can be aggregated, analyzed, shared, and reported to all stakeholders.
The critical information provided in this manner helps establish a baseline and can be used to identify areas for improvement. Such an approach is exactly the same game plan auto manufacturers followed in their initial digitalization and Industry 4.0 projects. In both cases (the shift in focus to sustainability and digitalization of operations), a manufacturer starting down the sustainability pathway can use the information to identify published use cases and scenarios that deliver the greatest impact and then prioritize those things.
Societal well-being aspects of Industry 5.0When Industry 5.0 is brought up, much of the focus is on sustainability. But the goals and what can be done with Industry 5.0 go far beyond that. As noted above, one aspect where Industry 5.0 is expected to play a major role is improving workers’ well-being. A prime example is addressing worker safety in complex manufacturing environments, including working with automated systems and robotics.
When looking at robotics from an Industry 4.0 perspective, the focus is on operational efficiency. Digital twins of robotics systems would ensure smooth operations in the context of the entire work cell or production line. Simulations would also help ensure safe operating conditions.
Industry 5.0 extends such work to seek ways for robotic systems to work collaboratively with human workers. So, rather than having a robotic system with limited functionality or fenced off for safety, Industry 5.0 would look for ways for a robotic system and humans to work together. Such cobots, as some call them, would amplify the benefits of a robotic system by imparting the operational knowledge of the human worker into processes.