Biopharmaceutical companies should look beyond the fourth industrial revolution and start thinking about how people will work day-to-day in the production plants of the future.

The term “fourth industrial revolution” was coined a decade ago by German government scientists to describe how technologies could help automate and control production.

Some industries, like the automotive sector, were quick to adopt 4.0 ideas and use them to make production more efficient. Others, like the drug industry, moved more slowly and are only now starting to realize the benefits of digitization.

Now the drug industry needs to look ahead to “Industry 5.0” and think about how staff will work in the digital facilities of the future, says Amr van den Adel, PhD, from the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand and who recently authored a paper on the subject.

“Industry 5.0 is a concept that builds upon the principles of Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While Industry 4.0 focused on the integration of automation, data exchange, and digital technologies in manufacturing, Industry 5.0 takes it a step further by emphasizing the collaboration between humans and machines.

“It seeks to combine the strengths of human intelligence and creativity with the efficiency and scalability of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).”

He adds that, “The aim of Industry 5.0 is to create a harmonious work environment where humans and machines work together to achieve higher productivity, innovation, and customization.

“Through the integration of advanced sensors, monitoring systems, and AI algorithms, Industry 5.0 can enhance safety measures and ensure high product quality by enabling real-time monitoring and proactive maintenance.”

van den Adel also cites collaborative robots—or cobots—that can work alongside human operators in biopharmaceutical manufacturing as another potential benefit.

“They can perform repetitive tasks, handle hazardous substances, or assist in intricate processes. Human operators can focus on complex problem-solving, quality control, and innovation.”

Efficiency drive

Like Industry 4.0, Industry 5.0 is ultimately about optimizing operations according to van den Adel, who says by leveraging advanced technologies the approach can enhance production processes, optimize workflows, and minimize downtime.

The ideas of team working and technology driven efficiency that underpin Industry 5.0 are also a good fit for firms making low volume or personalized medicines.

“The collaborative nature of Industry 5.0 allows for agile and flexible manufacturing processes, making it easier to adapt to changing market demands and optimize resource allocation.

“Industry 5.0 enables the mass customization of products and services, allowing companies to tailor their offerings to individual customer needs and preferences,” van den Adel says.

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