As manufacturers maneuver through Industry 4.0, the latest Industrial Revolution, you can’t help but marvel at the awesomeness of the technology. It brings together internet-connected devices and invisible networks of data racing through the air to produce intelligent, automated systems where robots take over—and more efficiently execute—the routine, mundane duties of the factory.

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Awesome… yet, somewhat familiar. Wasn’t that the plot of the Will Smith movie where the robots then try to take over the United States? Is it really a good idea to put so much responsibility in their mechanical hands? Just like Smith’s character in the film, many people don’t trust robots and worry that they will eliminate the need for workers in the factories after Industry 4.0.

Luckily, while real life may parallel fiction, it’s generally not as dramatic or spectacular. Instead, robots in manufacturing environments will increase the value of laborers and create better jobs for them in the era of Industry 5.0.

Future-looking technologies support today’s manufacturing operations

According to visionaries like Esben H. Østergaard, Chief Technology Officer at Universal Robots1, Industry 5.0 will bring the human touch back to manufacturing. Whereas 4.0 puts advanced technologies at the center stage of production, Industry 5.0 will see people working alongside factory systems.

This digital transformation of Industry 4.0 is creating new smart factories where machines are not only connected to the internet, but also producing and collecting statistical process control (SPC) data from across the supply chain. This data is analyzed to reveal intelligence that drives quality improvement, process optimization, cost reduction, and regulatory compliance on the factory floor.

Industry 5.0 will optimally marry the high speed and accuracy of industrial automation with the cognitive, critical thinking skills of human staff. So rather than displacing people, technology will actually enhance their roles in manufacturing. The responsibility of repetitive tasks like drilling or data entry will fall to automated, collaborative systems. Staff can then take on higher-level responsibilities in supervising these systems, making real-time decisions, and looking for opportunities to elevate quality and production processes.

This harmony of cognitive thinking and mechanical output is not as far in the future as you might think. In fact, an Accenture2 survey of 512 manufacturing executives from across North America, Europe, and Asia revealed that 85% of respondents foresee human-machine collaborative environments to be commonplace in their production processes by 2020!

Support users at every level for greater operational efficiency—today

Understandably, that anticipated 2020 date can be alarming for manufacturers who are just now making headway into adopting 4.0 technologies and moving towards digital transformation. Fortunately, human-machine collaboration has already begun and will naturally evolve with the transformation to smart factories. One example of this is a Quality Intelligence solution.

By leveraging a Software as a Service (SaaS) model in the cloud, a modern Quality Intelligence solution centralizes quality data collected from plant floors across the enterprise. The data is collected both automatically and manually, depending on the situation and interface at each data entry point. The enterprise-wide visibility attained from the aggregated data enables quality professionals, decision makers, and C-suite executives to analyze charts and dashboards that produce operational insights about continuous improvement opportunities.

In Industry 5.0, data collection is further automated and more inputs are added through robotic systems and internet-connected devices. Shop floor operators will use the same charts and dashboards from the Quality Intelligence solution to monitor processes and quickly and intelligently make decisions about how to optimize a machine and/or process—often before there’s an issue. Automated alarms from the same system will immediately notify staff if a robot has gone offline, or if an automatic lathe needs a tune-up to correct out-of-spec products before an entire lot must be scrapped.

Quality management software supports evolving industry needs

While Industry 4.0 and digital transformation may be at the top of everyone’s minds, it’s important to keep an eye towards the future. History has shown that the manufacturing world is not static; it is constantly propelled forward by new technologies. Just as Industry 4.0 technologies go beyond many manufacturers’ comfort zones, Industry 5.0 will also require an open mind and willingness to embrace the changing role of the shop floor operator.

What remains constant, however, is the need for high-quality products and the manufacturer’s desire to produce them. Continuing to innovate and invest in technologies helps to uncover new operational efficiencies, but it is human intellect that applies these insights to deliver a top-quality product to market.

The factory of the future relies on integrated, available data. What does it take to integrate data so that it can be used effectively? InfinityQS President and CEO gives an answer in a quick video. Watch below!


References:

1 Esben Osergaard, Universal Robots, https://blog.universal-robots.com/industry-50-return-of-the-human-touch

2 Accenture, Making the Most of the Connected Industrial Workforce, https://www.accenture.com/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-13/Accenture-Connected-Industrial-Workforce-Research