This article appeared in the March 2021 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
We all agree, 2020 was unlike any other year in recent history, with US manufacturing feeling the impact. The pandemic forced shutdowns, supply chain shortages and in many cases decreased demand due to economic uncertainty.
But the pandemic has also increased collaboration between humans and smart systems and sped up the move from Industry 4.0 (ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using smart technology) to Industry 5.0. Industry 4.0 is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using smart technology. Industry 5.0 builds on that, going a step further by leveraging the collaboration between increasingly powerful and accurate machinery with the unique creative ability of the human being.
Key areas and benefits for the shift from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0 include:
- Continued focus on Internet of Things (IoT), enabling manufacturers to make informed, strategic decisions using real-time date. COVID-19 has renewed interest in IoT demand due to its remote monitoring and predictive capabilities allowing manufacturers to safely monitor equipment performance and identify potential issues before a malfunction occurs.
- An increase in touchless services reducing the need for service technicians to go into plants and instead use assistive technology such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to provide basic troubleshooting and repairs.
- Switching from solely business-to-business (B2B) sales to a combination of B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales to increase profits and time to market. An increase in B2C sales also enables manufacturers to directly collect customer data that can ultimately result in better products, stronger relationships and increased sales.
- Re-evaluating the type of employees hired taking into account their current skills and their adaptability to new environments. Forward thinking companies will consider adopting virtual education to lower costs and avoid disruptions in production to upskill employees.
- A move toward near-sourcing — as opposed to offshoring — due to the impact of COVID-19 on receiving critical offshore supplies and the increase in transportation costs on those goods.
- A decrease in the cost of 3D printing allows manufacturers to complete tooling onsite in just a matter of days as opposed to months.
- An increase the use of 5G to improve latency and enable real-time communication to improve processes and continue to become more efficient.
COVID-19 continues to impact the manufacturing industry. Per global research and advisory firm Gartner, over half of all manufacturing enterprises are anticipated to fail to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic due to inconsistent analysis of ecosystem dependencies. What’s more, 30 percent will change business models by 2024, compared to a prediction of just 10 percent before the pandemic. Taking steps now to fully take advantage of technology and business changes can help your business survive both the current and crisis and thrive in the future.
Dewpoint is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since December 2020. Visit online: dewpoint.com.
About the Author
John Varilek is a Dewpoint Account Executive with over 35 years of experience in the Information Technology field primarily serving manufacturing clients in addition to over 20+ years in manufacturing plants supporting daily operations. He can be reached at 248-703-6159 or email@example.com.