Consortium members 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) are currently working on the Up-Skill project: Up-skilling for Industry 5.0 Roll-out, which they won funding for in 2022 from the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme. The aim of Up-Skill is to develop a better understanding of how businesses can benefit from improved machine/human integration in the workplace.
Industry 5.0, known also as the ‘human-centred industry’ or ‘cooperative industry, is rooted in understanding the importance of human beings and their skills in manufacturing processes, and therefore establishing a collaborative working environment where humans and machines can cooperate to deliver on their strengths. This distinguishes Industry 5.0 from Industry 4.0, which is focused on automation and digital technology.
Although businesses are adapting to the benefits offered by technologies associated with Industry 4.0, including automation, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, real-time data processing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, their integration with human capabilities will be the next step towards Industry 5.0. This will enable machines to continue delivering precise, routine, repetitive tasks while humans undertake more complex decision making and creative problem solving. Utilisation of technologies such as AI and robotics will enhance human capabilities rather than replace them, as manufacturing becomes more personalised and customised, and focused on quality, sustainability and social responsibility.
The goal of achieving more harmonious relationships between human beings and machines, together with increased productivity, efficiency and innovation, and promotion of human well-being and societal progress, means examining the implications of the transition to Industry 5.0. Automation projects have often failed in the past because they omitted the critical human skills needed for business success, therefore, it could be said that full automation is only appropriate when the objectives relate to production efficiency, accessibility and cost reduction.
In environments where innovation, flexibility, and the application of craft and artisanal skills are vital in creating added value for customers, leveraging effective operations between human workers and technology becomes the key managerial and research concern, and automation alone is not adaptive enough.
The work in Up-Skill addresses this, seeking to improve our comprehension of what the transition to Industry 5.0 will mean for workforces, in particular, the relationship between automation choices and the maintenance of skilled work, which have not been properly explored until now.