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What is Industry 5.0 and How Did We Get There?

Thu, 13 April, 2023

Agreeing a standard definition and scope for the term ‘Industry 5.0’ is currently the subject of ongoing debate. However what is clear, is that Industry 5.0 seeks to advance industrial progress beyond Industry 4.0, integrating the relevant technologies with human capabilities in order to draw out the best of both machines and people in the workplace.

Below, we trace the evolution of the path to Industry 5.0 by taking a look at the different stages of industrial development.

Industry 1.0 begins at the time of the late 18th century with the emergence of mechanisation and steam power. This first industrial revolution, also known as ‘The Industrial Revolution’, was closely associated with the growth of textile production, particularly in Britain during the 1700s. The invention and development of the steam engine changed how goods were manufactured, leading industry away from small, local, cottage-style industrial production towards factory and mass production.

Industry 2.0 began around a hundred years later, towards the end of the 19th century, propelled by the introduction of electricity. This greatly increased the widespread use of machinery in manufacturing and improved productivity through innovations such as electrified assembly line production.

Industry 3.0 took another leap forward around the middle of the 20th century, driven by the adoption of computers and digital technologies. These inventions and activities revolutionised the management of factories and supply chains, leading to greater automation and efficiency.

The more familiar Industry 4.0 is associated with further technological advancements being achieved in the early 21st century, including the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI), real time data processing, robotics and automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). At this stage, digital technologies were integrated with physical systems, resulting in improved efficiency through greater automation as well as more sophisticated data analysis.

Fast forward to today, and the global focus is now rapidly moving to Industry 5.0, with the aim of increasing collaboration between humans and machines, to the benefit of both the individual and the workplace. Importantly, Industry 5.0 puts human welfare at the heart of its approach, incorporating vital elements such as employee well-being, personalised products for customers and responsible production.

The Horizon Europe funded Up-Skill project – by partners Malardalen University, the University of Milan, the Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre (J4IC: partners Lancaster University and TWI) and the Anglia Ruskin Innovation Centre (ARIC: partners Anglia Ruskin University and TWI) – aims to gain a better understanding of the implications of the transition to Industry 5.0 in the workplace, and how skilled workforces and automated systems can be united to deliver greater benefits for industry and the world at large.

Watch this Introduction to Upskill video to find out more about the project as well as the path to Industry 5.0.

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