Angelo Hulshout has the ambition to bring the benefits of production agility to the market and set up a new business around that. This business, Shinchoku, is working hard to get its shop window online and its message out there.
Shinchoku has been working on its website for a while now, and we hope to launch it before the end of June. It’s not so easy to get your shop window ‘first time right.’ But that’s fine, we’re not in a hurry there – we’re working with customers already and don’t have a real need yet to attract new ones.
One of the sections on our site is a blog, where we aim to publish whenever there’s something worth writing about. Two weeks ago, our environmental conscious Arianna wrote a post discussing the possible impact of smart industry on people and the environment, our planet. Here, it is a pity that our website isn’t live yet.
Of course, smart industry is about automation, and automation can have two effects on human labor. It can destroy or change jobs, or it can free people from working like slaves. The former is obvious immediately: if we (further) automate production, people may lose their job to a computer or will be forced to learn how to work with that computer. That’s a consequence we’ll have to be aware of in everything we do – Shinchoku means progress for everyone, not just the factory owner, so we want to avoid people losing their jobs.
The second is indirect and two-faced in itself. A lot of consumer goods are still produced by poorly paid workers, children sometimes, in third-world countries. Automating production in Europe, in the first world, may lead to production moving back out of these cheap labor countries – computer-controlled machines are potentially cheaper. On the one hand, that would relieve those people from working long hours for little pay. On the other hand, it can put them out of work. In the case of children, this would probably allow them to go back to school, but the adults would need other jobs. What can we do about that?
The other subject, the environment, is potentially better off than the people. We strongly believe that if we make production more efficient, it will become more sustainable as well. Smart industry, with all its measurements and closed-loop improvements, can help us identify on a very detailed level where we waste energy and where we produce too much waste. That will allow us to trigger actions to improve in those areas, which would make smart industry really smart.
And that’s where it would have been useful to have a website. Right now, the EU is launching its Industry 5.0 initiative, where the focus shifts from, as they write it, “shareholder value to stakeholder value.” In other words, the impact of industry on society and our planet becomes more important. That’s an initiative we wholeheartedly support.
In fact, we’re looking into ways to identify how we can focus on helping companies that want to align their way of working with smart industry, including contributing to worker conditions and our planet. We happily say no to those that exploit children and poor people, as well as those that care more about their bank accounts than our children’s future. The only challenge we have there is defining a sensor network to detect who’s doing the right thing and who isn’t. So far, we do it by hand, quite successfully – partly because we focus on SMEs rather than the impersonal big enterprises, partly because nobody’s evil by nature.
Some may say, “Industry 5.0 – already?” when they see the EU announcements. At Shinchoku, our first reaction was, “Industry 5.0 – it’s about time!”