What will our factories look like in 2035? You do not have to be a great visionary to envision a state-of-the-art production facility crammed with robots and artificial intelligence (AI). A ‘rise of the machines’ nightmare scenario? Not necessarily, because people will also play an important role in tomorrow’s factories. In fact, if we manage to optimally combine the strengths of man and machine, we may even lay the foundation of a dream marriage that – by 2035 – might signal the start of the fifth industrial revolution. Featuring smart factories in which the focus is not on automation, digitalization and mass production, but on customization and personalization – steered by human creativity.
Industry 5.0: where smart robotics meets human creativity
Industry has evolved at breakneck speed in the last 300 years. It all began in the 18th century when the rural societies in Europe and America underwent the process of urbanization and the iron and textile industries started to blossom, in part thanks to the invention of the steam engine.
Just before the First World War, new industries (such as the steel and oil industries) emerged, while the invention of electricity allowed us to start mass-producing goods. That marked the start of Industry 2.0.
Since then, the pace of development has become ever faster. In the 1970s we witnessed the start of Industry 3.0 – featuring digital technology, the automation of industrial processes and the introduction of robots.
And today we are at the dawn of Industry 4.0, which largely builds on the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution: devices of all sorts – including robots – are connected to the Internet and produce a continuous stream of data; data that can be used to generate more insights into industrial processes and to support those processes’ further optimization.