Transformation Towards Societal Values: ALCHIMIA Contributing to Industry 5.0 

By Petri Kannisto, VDEh-Betriebsforschungsinstitut (BFI)

The researchers of production systems have recently undertaken value-based goals, described with the following words [1]:

  • Sustainable
  • Human centric
  • Resilient

This is referred to as Industry 5.0. The term is not just another buzzword but already happening. Although it builds upon technology, the ultimate goal is values rather than technology itself. This separates the newest wave from its predecessor, Industry 4.0 [2]; see the figure below. On the other hand, the two transformations do not occur sequentially but in parallel, as the digitalization goals of Industry 4.0 are partially not yet reached.

ALCHIMIA project contributes to Industry 5.0 with a federated-learning-based artificial intelligence (AI) system for scrap mix optimization in steel plants. This includes all Industry 5.0 values. First, the sustainable objective is clear thanks to the exploitation of steel scrap, an enabler on circular economy. On the other hand, the project considers life cycle assessment (LCA) as well. Second, the approach is human centric by including the Human-in-the-Loop (HITL), as operator involvement is a critical element in the system. Third, resilience receives a contribution from the AI-based approach that considers changes in the environment by adapting and re-training the models as appropriate.

The quick appearance of Industry 5.0 is partially a result from increased productivity and quicker software development. The developers will always face difficult problems, and there is no magical “silver bullet” for developers as already anticipated decades ago [3]. Still, the developers can clearly experience that modern tools, such as container-based platforms and nice software libraries, provide a convenient and fast path compared to the manual installation of the infrastructure and laborious API technologies. Besides development, one must acknowledge the sheer research effort internationally, often supported by administrative bodies, such as European Commission.

The ongoing ALCHIMIA project will continue the effort towards Industry 5.0 values, providing an instance of the newest transformation with an AI system that delivers a high technology readiness level.


[1] Industry 5.0. European Commission. [Visited 27 Nov 2023]

[2] X. Xu, Y. Lu, B. Vogel-Heuser, L. Wang, “Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0 — Inception, conception and perception”, Journal of Manufacturing Systems, vol. 61, pp. 530-535, 2021.

[3] F.P. Brooks, “No Silver Bullet — Essence and Accident in Software Engineering”, in Proceedings of the IFIP Tenth World Computing Conference, 1986, pp. 1069–1076.