What is Industry 5.0? (In-depth guide with examples)

Christian Berg
March 31, 2022
23 min read

In short, the concept of Industry 5.0 is mostly focused on the integration of humans working alongside robots and IoT devices in the automated industrial environments of the future.

What is Industry 5.0?


We can safely say that the technology industry is more dynamic today than ever before. Fueled by relentless growth of the tech markets and amplified by a turbulent economic environment, new tech concepts are emerging and replacing each other at an even faster rate.

It hasn’t been that long since we published our guide on industrial automation, originally titled ‘From Legacy Solutions to Industry 4.0.’ Yet, now it’s getting increasingly obvious that the next milestone of industrial automation revolution - Industry 5.0 - is just taking shape, and is likely to be quite relevant in future business environments. It is still largely just a concept at this point, but you should be aware of its meaning, possibilities & challenges.

I’m sorry, but where does Industry 5.0 come from?

As most businesses and organizations around the globe were actually still in the process of understanding, getting used to and implementing different parts of what is encompassed in the Industry 4.0 concept, such a rapid emergence of a trend for Industry 5.0 can be confusing.

This term popped up several years ago, used to describe an updated vision of the industrial revolution that emerged as a reaction to the concepts of Industry 4.0 and the lessons learnt from the actual implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions. According to the global tech and business community promoting the new concept, Industry 5.0 should be considered as an augmentation, addition and potentially an amendment to Industry 4.0 (some would argue it could be 4.1).

And the purpose of this article is to define Industry 5.0, explain what it’s all about and how it is different from Industry 4.0.

What is Industry 5.0?

In short, the concept of Industry 5.0 is mostly focused on the integration of humans working alongside robots and IoT devices in the automated industrial environments of the future. As opposed to Industry 4.0 that was mostly about leveraging robots and smart machines for maximum efficiency and high performance in manufacturing, Industry 5.0 is centered around the human impact and how latest technologies, such as IoT and Big Data, can be leveraged to empower human work and capabilities.

How the Industry 5.0 concepts emerged

Learning about the Industry 5.0 concepts and the history of this term can indeed be somewhat confusing. Especially since it tends to overlap with Industry 4.0, not just in terms of technologies and solutions but also from the temporal perspective.

The concept of Industry 4.0 is several years ahead, of course, but not for very long. It is considered that Industry 4.0 started trending in 2011, when the vision for the Fourth Industrial Revolution was presented at the Hannover Messe fair in Germany. Naturally, the initial vision of Industry 4.0 was also developed primarily for the German industrial automation and smart manufacturing market, as well as for other countries that are part of the EU and are subject to EU legislation. And even though soon Industry 4.0 became a global trend, for some time it had been perceived as primarily relevant to the European business environment and policies.

Industry 5.0, on the other hand, had a more global and international reputation from the very beginning. The origins of this concept, however, can also be traced back to Germany. It was at the CeBIT 2017 trade fair in Hannover where Japan presented its own vision for the future of industrial automation, robotics and smart manufacturing. Then, it was called Society 5.0. Reportedly, the Japanese vision gave birth to the concept of Industry 5.0 as an evolution of the original concept with enhanced role of humans, delivering business value alongside robots.

Recent experience of global COVID-19 pandemic and economic turbulence associated with it is another notable factor that played a big role in the rising popularity of Industry 5.0 as a new technology trend. A large supply of new data from companies that were implementing Industry 4.0 solutions and practices⁠—prior to and during the COVID-19 crisis⁠—shed light on many shortcomings of this concept and revealed areas that clearly required transformation.

Industry 5.0 vs. Industry 4.0. What’s the difference?

So Industry 5.0 is gaining momentum right now as a post-pandemic take on the future of industrial automation. In this vision, robots, smart machines, IoT, AI and Big Data are still the key to business success, but the technological side is balanced with more focus on sustainability, resilience and enhancement of human talent, supported by increasingly intelligent and efficient devices.

As you can see, the concepts of Industry 5.0 and Industry 4.0 do intersect quite a lot. What you probably can’t see right now is how they are actually different from each other and what the Industry 5.0 trend is bringing to the table.

The best way to clarify this is to compare these two technological concepts to each other.

Industry 4.0 — the rule of robots

Allegedly coined by Klaus Schwab, a German engineer, economist and founder of the World Economic Forum, the concept of Industry 4.0 describes rapid changes in industries, technologies and processes, fueled by the integration of latest tech innovations.

Considered by Schwab to be a substantive shift in industrial capitalism, transition to Industry 4.0 is primarily characterized by wide adoption of multiple automation technologies. Such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, large-scale machine-to-machine communication (M2M), Internet of Things (IoT), smart automation and interconnection techniques, etc.

These technological innovations, along with specific techniques and approaches to implementing them, are central to the Industry 4.0 concept. They are viewed as the key to unprecedented efficiency and productivity growth, which should be the product of this new generation of industrial automation solutions.

Let’s try to summarize the vision of Industry 4.0 in a number of brief statements for extra clarity.

It shouldn’t be very difficult to recognize why certain aspects of the Industry 4.0 concept were considered by many people to be somewhat flawed, incomplete and needing improvement.

In many ways, this is why the concept of Industry 5.0 started to gain momentum.

Elon Musk Tweet related to Industry 5.0

Industry 5.0 — automation with a soul

In short, the main difference of Industry 5.0 concept in comparison to Industry 4.0 is focus on adding the “human touch” to the machines and utilizing new technologies for better empowerment of human workers. And even though Industry 5.0 is a new step in the development of industrial automation (or at least it is expected to be that new step), you could also say that this concept is in many ways anti-industrial.

Here’s how Frost & Sullivan, a reputable American business consulting firm, explained its transition to the Industry 5.0 vision at SPS fair in 2019.

“The most recent concept of Industry 4.0 revolves around integrating information technology and operational technology with near-real-time connectivity in the factory to provide actionable intelligence to decision-makers. However, Industry 4.0 relies heavily on automation and has been intimidating workers on factory shop floors. Frost & Sullivan envisions a futuristic scenario of the next big thing—Industry 5.0, which will bring back empowered humans to the shop floor.”

This was preceded by public acknowledgements of flaws in Industry 4.0 vision by business leaders and tech entrepreneurs. In 2018, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, confirmed that the Industry 4.0 concept tends to overrate the role of automation and robotics in manufacturing and industrial environments. “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated,” Musk tweeted.

In April 2018, talking to the CBS This Morning TV show co-host Gayle King during a tour of Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory, Elon Musk shed some light on how excessive reliance on robotic assembly line solutions was one of the main factors causing challenges in the production of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan. The Model 3 assembly line was then viewed as the standard of robotics-driven assembly line of the future.

Musk called this period a "production hell" and said that implementing very complex combinations of robotic solutions ended up actually slowing the manufacturing process down. "We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts, and it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing," Musk said.

Just like we did with Industry 4.0, let us try to summarize the vision of Industry 5.0 in a number of brief statements.

What is wrong with Industry 4.0?

Clearly and undeniably, the paradigm of Industry 4.0 has always been predominantly technological and centered around an all-encompassing automation and implementation of robotic cyber-physical machines to perform tasks instead of humans, with great efficiency and precision.

This emphasis on automation, coupled with the absence of solutions to address other aspects of the digital economy in Industry 4.0, is what made many people feel like this concept requires a certain augmentation.

Here are several key dimensions of the design and performance of industrial automation solutions that were almost completely neglected in the Industry 4.0 concept.

Obsessed by new technological capabilities and automation, the Industry 4.0 paradigm leaves the social dimension of the new industrial revolution completely out of scope. It pays no attention to the wellbeing of human workers in an Industry 4.0 environment.

Everything related to economic resilience and regeneration across the supply chain and manufacturing processes is another aspect of the new industrial revolution that was mostly forgotten by the authors of Industry 4.0 concepts. The designs of robotic and AI-controlled production lines lack a vision for restorative feedback across all the operational processes and layers.

The environmental aspect of the new industrial revolution is also mostly ignored in Industry 4.0 concepts. Even though the Industry 4.0 paradigm is centered around energy efficiency and total optimization of all operational processes, it predominantly views energy consumption and resources utilization strictly from the business performance perspective.

Additionally, Industry 4.0 describes the implementation of fully autonomous industrial automation systems and robotic solutions as the main utilization of innovative technologies. At the same time, machines, technologies and devices designed to complement human capabilities play a secondary, primarily supportive role in production lines based on Industry 4.0 concepts.

Key components of Industry 5.0

Now, as all the shortcomings of Industry 4.0 have been exposed, let’s take a closer look at the cornerstone elements of Industry 5.0 to discuss what this updated vision brings to the table of the new industrial revolution.

Human-centric approach

If Industry 4.0 was centered around utilizing automation systems, machines and robots, interconnected with each other for maximum performance optimization and efficiency,  Industry 5.0 places all that in the context of a greater human-centric approach. It elevates the role of human talent and its importance to overall success of operations. When it comes to implementing robots and other machines, Industry 5.0 emphasizes the collaboration and interactions between humans and machines.

This approach is also sometimes called ‘society-centric’ as it puts core human needs and interests at the core of the production process and promotes adapting industrial automation technologies to the needs of industry workers. Industry 5.0 recognizes the importance of not just achieving high productivity but also creating safe and inclusive work environments where human health and well-being is a priority.

Resilience and sustainability

As an addition to empowering humans, Industry 5.0 devotes a lot of attention to various aspects of resilience and sustainability. The concept of Industry 5.0 provides a framework that should balance the competitiveness and business efficiency of the initial vision with a focus on sustainability and mindful approach to the environment and the impact of industrial automation on our planet. Relying on flexible, agile and adaptable technologies is also a part of Industry 5.0 drive towards resilience.

Collaboration of humans and machines

While Industry 5.0 is not downplaying the crucial role of robots and automated machines in the new industrial revolution, the focus is shifted to collaborative interactions between humans and machines. In addition to recognizing well-known strengths and advantages of robotic automation, such as being more precise, consistent and productive in their work compared to human employees, Industry 5.0 also acknowledges all the weaknesses of excessive automation. Such as low flexibility of highly automated solutions and poor adaptability to changing needs and requirements.

Boost of customer experience and hyper customization

When it comes to the customer-facing side of industrial automation—products and services generated by the Industry 5.0 solutions, the new concept is focused on delivering greater customer experiences instead of just achieving high performance by interconnecting machines and software. For consumers, this brings hyper customization and hyper personalization, which is the ability of businesses to provide customers with even better choice and product customization options while still reducing production costs thanks to robotics, automation and other innovative technologies.

Industry 5.0 Quote

“What I really like in Industry 5.0 is the part about shifting the focus back to people and not machines. Utilizing knowledge within the people working in the company has truly untapped potential. We should be focused more on techniques and solutions that will increase the trust in the factory floor workers and realize the value that exists there. The environmental impact, including both the impact on planet Earth and our society, is also very relevant. Today, customers are increasingly aware and make choices minding the environmental impact of the businesses. To hire high-quality young talent, companies also need to show that they take environmental impact seriously.”

Bernt-Johan Bergshaven, Co-Founder of Clarify.

Enabling technologies of Industry 5.0

The technologies playing key roles in the Industry 5.0 paradigm mostly coincide with the core technologies of Industry 4.0 systems. Typically, the enabling technologies of Industry 5.0 are divided into six basic categories.

As we said, Industry 5.0 places the collaboration of humans and machines at the center of the new industrial revolution. Human-machine-interaction technologies are intended to support human workers and combine their unique capabilities with the power of machines.

Here are some of the most common human-machine-interaction technologies:

The role of digital twins and simulations in Industry 5.0 systems comes to the fore as they allow companies to test their products and operations effectively, optimizing production and minimizing potential risks and waste of resources.

Here are several specific examples of digital twins and simulation solutions in industrial automation environments:

The concept of biological transformation as addition to digital transformation is another part of Industry 5.0 paradigm. This is why all kinds of smart materials and bio-inspired technologies are also considered to be a crucial property for Industry 5.0 solutions.

Here are some examples of smart and bio materials that should be integrated into the industrial automation systems in line with the new concept:

Naturally, AI is also an essential part of Industry 5.0. The difference with the previous concept for the new industrial revolution is that the new concept highlights the development of AI solutions in direction towards the human-centric paradigm.

Here are several specific examples:

Data in all its forms and aspects, from establishing interconnection between network components and IT system layers to collecting, storing and analyzing information, also plays a key role in Industry 5.0 systems.

And last but not least, all kinds of technologies and solutions related to using renewable energy and achieving maximum energy efficiency.

Collaborative robots

Since Industry 5.0 relies heavily on collaborative robots, or cobots (also called universal robots), that work alongside humans as opposed to fully autonomous robotic solutions and industrial machines, we should also talk about this field of robotics in a bit more detail.

The importance of cobots and all kinds of human-machine-interaction technologies and solutions in Industry 5.0 environments is considerably greater compared to Industry 4.0. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between cobots and traditional industrial robots.


If industrial robots are typically designed to operate independently or as part of a larger network of machines, cobots are made to directly interact with human workers.

High flexibility.

Industrial robots promoted by the Industry 4.0 concepts are typically designed to be specialized tools handling one or several specific tasks. Such machines are impossible or very difficult to read without significant changes in their code and engineering. Cobots, on the other hand, are designed to be flexible and easy to program devices able to be utilized for many different applications.

Smaller sizes and lower costs.

Cobots come in much smaller sizes compared to typical Industry 4.0 industrial robotic devices. And are considerably cheaper to make, which makes this technology more accessible to organizations and businesses that have no budgets to spend on large industrial machines.

User-friendly and easy to use.

Collaborative robots are also stepping away from overcomplexity of traditional industrial automation solutions. They are typically designed to be user-friendly and easily programmable to simplify both redeployment of cobots within a manufacturing area, for example, and using them by human workers for productivity gains. Industry 5.0 paradigm assumes that collaborative robotic solutions shouldn’t be excessively expensive to install, program and calibrate for individual needs of each user.

Implementation to perform a higher variety of tasks.

Unlike industrial robots that are primarily made for heavy manufacturing, cobots are designed to be able to perform all kinds of light tasks as well, such as various assembly line processes, pick & place, material handling and other tasks where they can assist human workers but are not able to replace them.

Improved safety.

Cobots also are more likely to be utilized to handle potentially dangerous tasks with highest probability of accidents and injuries among human workers. Using them would improve safety, reduce accidents and create better working conditions for human employees.

Сhallenges and issues addressed by Industry 5.0

The emergence of Industry 5.0 as a replacement for Industry 4.0, and new take on the industrial revolution, itself is an attempt to address a number of major issues and challenges in industrial automation.

Even though Industry 5.0 is centered around technologies and automation, it views the processes of the new industrial revolution in the context of general underlying issues in modern-day post-industrial society and economy.

Social issues and role of human talent

The human-centricity of Industry 5.0 did not arise out of nowhere. The excessive focus on automation and machines replacing human labor across all industrial fields and processes in Industry 4.0, and generally within the business environment, created tension and distrust towards new technologies on the part of regular workers.  

At the same time, growing complexity of industrial automation solutions made it difficult to obtain the necessary skills for employees who want to keep being employed by industrial facilities of the future.

Industry 5.0 attempts to address these problems on several levels. It doesn’t offer specific recipes to overcome these challenges, but rather highlights the direction for the industry, and global society with it, to evolve. The emphasis on the need for automation solutions to support and empower human labor instead of simply replacing it, which we already mentioned several times in this article, is certainly a part of it.

Industry 5.0 highlights the need to implement proper training, teaching people how to use new technologies. As well as retraining and lifelong learning concepts promoted among human talent, low-qualified workers especially. It also urges businesses to be aware of and prepare for upcoming labor and skills shortages, while the society needs to be addressing systemic issues such as growing inequality and youth unemployment.

Governments and politics

Industry 5.0 also addresses the governmental and political dimension of the new industrial revolution, noting that all social structures in general and governments specifically tend to transform much slower than technologies and fail to keep up with industrial innovations.

In order to deal with this fundamental problem, the concepts of Industry 5.0 promote an updated approach to governance as well. The government should be more transparent, adaptive and resistant to protectionism and ignorance of long-term sustainability goals.

Environment protection

The ecological perspective and the need to respect planetary boundaries is also a part of the Industry 5.0’s scope. The paradigm underlines the importance of actively moving towards various global environmental targets, from recycling waste and using biodegradable materials to CO2 neutrality.

Business environment

In the economic dimension, Industry 5.0 stresses the need to move towards the economy where environmental impact and sustainability perspective will be a part of business models and governmental policies. In addition to high productivity and financial gains, businesses would need to deliver social and ecological values as well.

Security risks due to overcomplexity

Growing complexity and component interconnections in industrial automation solutions of the new generation leads to another serious issue. It is well-known that highly integrated systems are more vulnerable to security risks. Industry 5.0 warns that cyberattacks, accidents or infrastructure malfunctions in large-scale automation systems can potentially lead to a total network collapse.

Industry 5.0 Challenges

“One thing I'd like to point out is that there's a gap between automation and PLCs. In the industrial automation field, you need a lot of control. You need to be sure that things are working the way you need them to. These are machines and devices that are spinning, and things could go wrong in a number of ways. On the other hand, you have the world of software programming with its high speeds and the Facebook mentality (moving fast without worrying about breaking things). These two worlds really collide into each other. And not just technologically but also in organizations. So the challenge of Industry 5.0 (or industrial automation in general) is in finding ways to guarantee safe and predictable operations on the automation side, while still being able to adopt some of the raw innovation and fast-paced approach happening on the programming side.”

Tor-Inge Eriksen, Clarify’s CTO

Industry 5.0-ready companies and products

As you can see, at this point in time, Industry 5.0 is very much a compilation of guidelines, ideas and instructions on the development of industrial automation and digital transformation in the near future.

You could even say that going into the details of organizing and directing the Fifth Industrial Revolution might be a little too soon. “There's too much talk about Industry 5.0 when we really haven't begun Industry 4.0 yet. The terminology directly references 'revolutions' where everything is different afterward, and that is hardly the case,” Mike Nager, a reputable electrical engineering expert and the author of ‘The Smart Student's Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0’ textbook, argues in a LinkedIn post.

“Last time I looked, the World Economic Forum was able to identify significantly less than 100 true Industry 4.0 factories around the world. Doesn't look like a revolution to me,” points out Nager.

Even though the expert clearly has a point saying this, and it is safe to say that we are still very far from Industry 4.0 or 5.0 solutions being implemented commonly around the globe, some forward-thinking companies are already embracing the sustainability and human-centricity concepts promoted by Industry 5.0.

Here are several examples of companies that drive the Fifth Industrial Revolution by providing cutting edge products and services.

Clarify (Collaborative streaming data platform for industrial teams)

Clarify is a developer of a next-gen SaaS time series data intelligence tool designed primarily for industrial automation purposes. Clarify’s time series data solution makes it easy for organizations to utilize multiple kinds of data collected from industrial automation systems, such as Historians, SCADA and IIoT devices.

The data analysis platform by Clarify incorporates a number of Industry 5.0-ready features, allowing users to integrate, organize, collaborate and visualize industrial data. It supports a streaming data timeline technology that enables users to quickly navigate and visualize hundreds of data signals at the same time without losing overview or performance.

In fact, Clarify has in many ways preempted the Industry 5.0 philosophy with a number of its features, such as extensive collaboration capabilities. Clarify allows team members to tag each other to start a thread or log incidents, directly in the data timeline. Adding media files for more context, search and review of previous activities to avoid solving the same issue twice are some of other convenient features of Clarify. Developer-friendly documentation and secure APIs make it easy and safe to work with this solution as well.

“It's easy for engineers to get really, really interested in technology and forget about the bigger picture. In light of Industry 5.0 and digital transformation, companies are getting a lot more conscious about collecting and using data. In Clarify, we really think that customer's data is customer's data. And what that means is that customers pay us to store their data, it's not ours. So whatever data you put into Clarify, you can also easily extract it. And if you want to use the data in some third-party tool, we're not going to stop you. We encourage it. We think there's a lot of space for other products and other companies to be good at other fields of industrial automation. And now, when the Industry 5.0 trend is gaining momentum, this kind of approach seems to be less and less common. When I used to work in industrial automation, it was pretty typical to see a situation when you can't even extract the data from a piece of machinery that you acquired. If you want to collect the data coming from it, you must pay extra. I'm not a fan of such an approach, and I can tell you that customers really aren't as well. I believe that manufacturers and service providers who make it very easy to get data out of the sensors and really work to make the data pipelining as simple as possible will be the ones flourishing in the Industry 5.0 era.”

Tor-Inge Eriksen, Clarify’s CTO

Nvidia (AI solutions)

Nvidia, a global manufacturer of graphics processors and hardware for desktop computers and mobile devices, is one of the Industry 5.0 frontrunners in the AI field. Specifically, the AI training hardware and software.

The company has invested in the creation of CUDA Deep Neural Network (cuDNN) software library, which is used to perform high-scale AI training with Nvidia’s GPUs. Many innovative Industry 5.0-style connected machine vision solutions designed for various applications rely on Nvidia GPUs and some other hardware components by this company.

ABB (collaborative robots)

ABB is a large industrial automation company headquartered in Germany and operating globally. ABB has a wide portfolio of automation solutions actively utilized by companies across industries.

Specifically, ABB is one of the world leaders in collaborative robots manufacturing. The company has a line of single and dual arm programmable collaborative robots (YuMi). ABB’s YuMi cobots are among the most flexible and affordable solutions currently available on the market.

Additionally, the company also produces manufacturing operations management systems (ABB Ability brand), mechanical power transmission products, control room solutions, high and low voltage systems, and other industrial automation solutions.

SEAT (assembly lines and automotive manufacturing)

Spanish car manufacturer SEAT is another industrial automation frontrunner. In 2018, the Financial Times acknowledged SEAT as one of European leaders in digital transformation.

The Spanish automotive manufacturer has been implementing various elements of Industry 5.0 automation at its production lines for a number of years now. SEAT has integrated cobots, AI, virtual reality, and Big Data solutions to empower its car assembly lines. The company also has a biomechanics laboratory, where it develops eco-friendly materials and ergonomic workstations for employees.

Siemens (industrial automation and digitization)

Siemens AG is one of the largest industrial manufacturing and engineering companies in the world. The company is among the main promoters of Industry 5.0 concepts in the EU.

The portfolio of products and services by Siemens incorporates a wide range of offerings related to industrial automation and smart electronics across fields and industries. They include construction automation equipment and systems, industrial plant-related products, smart healthcare electronics, transportation and logistics solutions, etc.

Siemens Electronic Works Amberg (EWA), a manufacturing facility based in Amberg (Germany), is among the most innovative factories in the world. According to Siemens, EWA’s manufacturing is 75% automatic, being controlled by robots and machines and delivers products almost without defects (measured quality is 99.9990%).

Final words. How to make Industry 5.0 happen?

Despite relatively slow rates of adoption, the transition towards Industry 5.0 has already started. And it is in our collective interest to bring the society and business environment closer to this vision of self-aware and resilient industrial automation.

Being able to effectively collect and utilize industrial data is essential to any company striving for automation in the Industry 5.0 era, says Tor-Inge Eriksen, CTO of Clarify.

“In this transition towards the eco-friendly and sustainable automation paradigm envisioned in Industry 5.0, organizations will require data more than ever before. And with that comes a ton of new problems. How do you organize great amounts of data? Who should do it? Where to store it? How do you standardize the data and where (if you're getting data from multiple sources)? How to collect and monitor the temperature information about specific parts of a machine and compare this information to data from other machines? What if they're coming from two different manufacturers? What if they're labeled differently? In order to make the principles of Industry 5.0 work in a real business environment, we will need to find answers to these and other questions.”

As the industrial automation technologies market keeps growing, we are seeing new interesting products and companies springing up, attempting to solve the issues addressed in Industry 5.0 concept. We believe that Clarify has a role to play in all this as well. As a company, we envision our future in working together with key players in the industry rather than trying to be a full solution in every aspect of it.


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