Skip to content

Industry 5.0 and Human Skills Integration for Manufacturing

Two of TWI’s Innovation Centres, the Anglia Ruskin Innovation Centre and the Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre, are partners, along with other consortium members, on the Up-Skill: Up-skilling for Industry 5.0 Roll-out project.  Funding was secured competitively from the EU’s Horizon Europe programme as a result of a successful project proposal by the consortium.

Each of the Innovation Centres is a strategic partnership between TWI Ltd and a leading UK university, bringing distinct areas of expertise to Up-Skill, which are complemented and amplified by those of Malardalen University and the University of Milan.

The Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre (J4IC) was formed in 2017 to focus on the digitalisation of joining and associated manufacturing technologies in the context of Industry 4.0.  J4IC integrates Lancaster University’s research strengths in engineering, data science and computing with TWI’s world-leading knowhow in joining technologies, to create and embed transformative manufacturing capabilities and Industry 5.0 pathways for business.  The Anglia Ruskin Innovation Centre (ARIC) was established in 2021 by Anglia Ruskin University and TWI to focus on the digital transformation of management, people, skills and organisational innovation within an Industry 4.0 context.  Core areas include new business practices, the transition from traditional manufacturing to smart factories, technology acceleration for sustainable development and new supply chain models.

Industry 4.0 is underpinned by technologies such as autonomous robots, machine learning, big data, augmented reality and cloud computing.  As such, it has the potential to deliver industrial value, for example by enabling reduced production costs, improved product quality and mass customisation, through the merging of the physical and digital worlds.  But simultaneously, Industry 4.0 could also potentially cause social and organisational damage, including the threat of unemployment and skills losses, and being able to retain opportunities for innovation.  Industry 5.0, however, addresses these concerns by placing requirements for efficiency, productivity and return on investment within the broader context of sustainability, resilience and human-centricity.  This broadens the strategic focus to include how digitalisation and related, emerging technologies can be used to benefit industry, particularly in terms of sector productivity and robustness, workers and society.

The Up-Skill project consortium comprises ARIC, J4IC, Iris, Kneia SL, Malardalen Industrial Technology Centre (MITC), Malardalen University and Università Degli Studi di Milano.


The objectives of Up-Skill are to:

  • Identify the skills that existing workers will need to survive in the emerging digitalised workspace
  • Provide data and information for technological integration and decision making
  • Reduce costs in primary manufacturing through implementation of human-machine augmentation
  • Improve quality of output and productivity by addressing production methods, new product development cycles and the reproducibility of products in conjunction with the artisan skills need for certain specifications
  • Reduce waste by enabling higher levels of reproducibility, and the application of software to make more efficient use of components
  • Quantify the value of skilled labour and craftsmanship through a reference framework which can be used to understand and express employee value across the business
Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre (J4IC)
Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre (J4IC)
Anglia Ruskin Innovation Centre (ARIC)
Anglia Ruskin Innovation Centre (ARIC)


Up-Skill will develop a better understanding of how businesses, particularly in industrial and manufacturing environments, can leverage value from human-machine integration.  Companies are already exploring how they can benefit from the application of technologies like real time data processing, the Internet of Things, automation and artificial intelligence, and the next step is to integrate these with human capabilities. 

Upskill, therefore, has created a series of comparative case studies, using ethnographic research as the basis, to determine how the potential for automation and human input is currently being addressed in a range of industrial, competitive and supply chain settings.  The research will produce a unique, detailed understanding of: how artisanal skills and automation interact and are managed; how products are made; and which technologies and human-specific skills are deployed in their manufacture.  The approach will also take into account the case study company’s strategy and managerial competencies used to achieve business sustainability and growth.

One such case study centres on the German company Webber, established around 35 years ago, which manufactures gas burners and gas-air mixing control systems for industrial use.  An industrial burner mixes fuel and air together, and uses an ignition mechanism, to provide a platform for combustion.  Webber products are not only installed as heat sources, but also as working flame burners (see Figure 1 example), where the flame shape and form is used as a tool to perform an operation within a production process such as flame polishing of glass and Plexiglas, and surface treatment of plastics prior to painting.

The ethnographic study, led by ARIC, followed the innovation process, including the enabling technology assessment undertaken by TWI.  This resulted in the identification of a different technology that could be introduced within the burner assembly process, namely furnace brazing, a type of vacuum brazing which is advantageous over flame brazing because products require no post treatment or cleaning, so could therefore be considered environmentally friendly.  Webber judged this to be appropriate to their future operations, and work is being undertaken to scale-up production in a German vacuum brazing company together with further support from TWI.

TWI has also assisted Webber with laser processing equipment, and Webber are in the process of buying a laser spot welding machine as a means of joining the fine tubes which are used in many burner designs.  Simultaneously, Webber also sought to identify an alternative, more efficient, method of cutting hard and soft materials for their manufacturing processes. TWI subsequently demonstrated water jet cutting to Webber, who decided to adopt the method.  Webber then installed it at the company’s production facilities, where it is now being used in the manufacture of parts.


The ethnographic research undertaken within the planned case studies will assess, and provide markers in, the ways in which job roles are changing as a consequence of the introduction of Industry 5.0.  The information platform being developed by IRIS Technology Solutions within Up-Skill will store the compiled research data and convert it into actionable information for end-users, providing a data repository and decision support system (DSS) which leverages AI technologies, and which businesses can utilise to inform future operations.

Up-Skill aims to deliver benefits to how workplaces, industry and policies are shaped in the future, based on the application of Industry 4.0 and evolving Industry 5.0 approaches, as identified and developed during the project, in the form of pathways created for the integration of Industry 4.0 and craft skills in different industries.  The project will also provide specific guidelines on how to introduce Industry 5.0 to European manufacturing supply chains, contribute to increased longevity of demand for skilled labour and craftsmanship, and support a reduction in the amount of waste arising from production processes, and the adoption of more environmentally friendly ways of operating.

The Up-Skill project runs from September 2022 to August 2025. Find out more about it by visiting the Up-Skill website.

Up-Skill is a Horizon Europe RIA project funded by the European Union under grant agreement No. 101070666. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or HADEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Example of the flame brazing process.
Example of the flame brazing process.
Funding references (see accompanying description left).
Funding references (see accompanying description left).

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI Innovation Network:

Subscribe >