Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2021 - 30

industry 5.0
continued from page 29
can successfully achieve those
aims, in other respects they can
come up short.
While essentially a technological
shift, the actual impact of
Industry 4.0 on the industry extends
considerably beyond technology
alone. There are three
relevant dimensions of change
in relation to Industry 4.0: technological
change, social change
and change in the business
paradigm. That a transformed
industry will have a transformative
impact on society as well
was one of the points made
by the authors of a policy brief
entitled Industry 5.0: Towards
a sustainable, human-centric
and resilient European industry,
which was produced in January
of this year by the Directorate-General
for Research and
Innovation (DG RTD) of the
European Commission. They
noted that 'this is foremost true
for industry workers, who may
see their role changed or even
threatened. Changing roles and
increased reliance on complex
technologies will require new
skills.' Without an understanding
of how these roles will change
and what these new skills might
be, manufacturing workers have
long resisted change, fearing
marginalization or the ultimate
loss of their jobs. 'Increasing automation
may undermine industry's
societal role as an employer
and engine of prosperity', notes
the DG RTD. It has developed a
vision for the future of European
industry that has become known
as Industry 5.0. This vision 'recognises
the power of industry to
achieve societal goals beyond
jobs and growth, to become a
resilient provider of prosperity,
by making production respect
the boundaries of our planet
and placing the wellbeing of
the industry worker at the centre
of the production process.
It complements the existing Industry
4.0 paradigm by having
research and innovation drive
the transition to a sustainable,
human-centric and resilient European
It is a vision that is gaining
recognition even in unexpected
quarters: Elon Musk famously
acknowledged a similar insight,
albeit differently phrased, in his
tweet, 'excessive automation at
Tesla was a mistake. To be pre30
cise, my mistake. Humans are
The concept of Industry 5.0,
it should be noted was given to
the world in December 2015 by
a Czech logistics expert called
Michael Rada, who used it to
describe change processes
directed towards a closer cooperation
between man and
machine, and the 'systematic
prevention of waste and wasting
including industrial upcycling'.
The term caught on and
has since been re-interpreted,
expanded on and reused in a
host of publications.
In its current reincarnation, it
may in a sense be seen as the
reversal of a trend: it promises
to bring people back into the
industrial framework. If Industry
4.0 is centred
on the smart,
digital transf
or m a t ion,
complete with
the Industry of
Things, Industry
5.0 aims
to leverage
the collaboration
incr ea sing
humans and
machines to
achieve 'a balance
whereby the machine-human
interaction can offer the
highest benefits'.
These benefits range from
the creation of a safer working
environment and better environmental
performance to worker
re- and up-skilling; and from
releasing workers from having
to perform repetitive and labour-intensive
work by using
robots to utilizing human intelligence
to make personalization
and mass customization in industry
As Ƙstergaard, formerly of
Universal Robots and today
CEO of the Robotics ReInvest
platform, also wrote: 'To be
clear, there are huge swaths
of product types that nobody
wants personalized and for
which Industry 4.0 setups, with
their traditional industrial robots,
are perfect. Nobody wants
a personalized drywall anchor,
engine block, or lawnmower
blade. If these products can
be made at a minimal cost in
a lights-out factory, it benefits
Industry 5.0 products, on the
other hand, empower people to
realize the basic human urge to
express themselves-even if they
have to pay a premium price.
Making these products requires
what we call the human touch.'
Since Rada's introduction of the
term, Industry 5.0 has to a certain
extent also been conflated
with Japan's vision of a Society
5.0: a 'super smart' society
conceived of by the Japanese
government as 'a human-centred
society that balances economic
advancement with the
resolution of social problems
by a system that highly integrates
cyberspace and physical
space'. This vision has started
to permeate
the thinking
about industry
and manufacturing
in countries
around the
That process
has been accelerated
by the
of the past yearand-a-half.
outbreak of the
Coronavirus pandemic
has considerably shaken
up previously taken-for-granted
industrial practices. Among others,
Covid-19 demonstrated the
fragility of the network of global
supply chains in the face of crisis,
and the dangers of depending
on these. In Europe, this has led
to a realisation that there will be
no going back to the way things
were, offering an opportunity to
shape a new normal that is future-proof,
resilient, sustainable
and human-centred and to renew
the role of industry in society.
These profound changes and
their matching policy responses,
are precisely what is driving the
concept of Industry 5.0 forward,
according to the DG RTD authors.
At the European level, the
transition towards Industry 5.0
has already started, with a number
of on-going projects in Horizon
2020 already contributing to
the development of this concept.
What will it look like?
One of the fundamental concepts
behind the idea of Industry
5.0 that of man and machine
finding ways to work together to
improve the means and efficiency
of production processes. Going
beyond automation, Industry
5.0 will be 'a synergy between
humans and autonomous machines',
wrote Saeid Nahavandi,
in a paper published in the Sustainability
journal in August, 2019.
'The autonomous workforce
will be perceptive and informed
about human intention and desire.
The human race will work
alongside robots, not only with
no fear but also with peace of
mind, knowing that their robotic
co-workers adequately understand
them and have the ability
to effectively collaborate with
them. It will result in an exceptionally
efficient and value-added
production process, flourishing
trusted autonomy, and reduced
waste and associated costs (....
)Providing robotic productions
with the human touch, the next
industrial revolution will introduce
the next generation of robot,
commonly termed as cobots'.
Cobot arms can work directly
next to human workers, performing
activities side by side
without interacting, or in a work
sequence with them. There are
also responsive cobots and
even co-operational cobots that
can work together with a worker
on same task. Cobot arms
can be mounted on autonomous
mobile robots, adding
mobility to their potential.
Developments in this area
are happening fast. One of the
more exciting, according to
some - unnerving, say others
- is the progress being made in
brain-computer interfaces.
'When brain signals can be
read with high precision and
transferred to the robots, we
will be able to collaborate with
them in a completely new way,'
writes Elena Fersman, Research
Director AI at Ericsson in a
website blogpost.
'Human-robot collaboration
is on the horizon and everyone
from manufacturers to service
providers has an opportunity
to reach into this market, " she
concludes. " Precision accuracy,
improved efficiency, versatile
operations, and reduced
human-error risk factors, all
mean that we'll be seeing
much more of this technology
in the near future.

Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2021

Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2021 - Cover1
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Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2021 - Contents
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