Industry 4.0 as an Opportunity and Challenge for the Furniture Industry—A Case Study

Industry 4.0 presents huge opportunities for the realisation of sustainable production, but also many risks if companies do not respond adequately to modern trends. A new direction, Industry 5.0, is emerging, which promotes symbiosis of man with new technologies. The question is, therefore, whether it is possible to skip Industry 4.0 in the development line, or whether it is just a ‘novelty’ that existed. By Lubos Cerveny, Roman Sloup, Tereza Cervena, Marcel Riedl and Petra Palatova, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague

The worldwide industrial development lasting several centuries culminated in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This phenomenon was presented in Germany at the Hannover Fair in Hannover in 2011 as a proposal for a new concept of German economic policy; and furniture production, as one of the most desirable needs of everyday life, is also undergoing this shift. 

This situation presents many opportunities for individual economies, but also includes many risks if they do not respond adequately to modern trends. Industry 4.0 also presents huge opportunities for the realisation of sustainable production.

Currently, a new direction, Industry 5.0, is emerging, which aims to reveal the role of man in Cyber–Physical Systems (CPS) and to promote the symbiosis of man with new technologies. This new model for creating the factories of the future is called the Human–Cyber–Physical System (HCPS). 

It is about the penetration of artificial intelligence into the everyday life of people, their ‘cooperation’ in order to strengthen human abilities and the return of man to the ‘centre of the universe’. In this regard, a more accurate term is Industry 5.0—Society 5.0. 

The term originated in Japan in April 2016 as a new philosophy that supports the name Society 5.0 thanks to the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.

The increasing integration of the global economy is generally perceived by society as an opportunity for substantial growth. Industry 4.0 affects the entire industrial sector, including the furniture manufacturing sector. 

US and European countries maintain a strong competitive position, showing a downward trend. By contrast, Asian countries of different income groups have become more competitive and can act as obvious examples of the successful modernisation of the furniture sector.

The European furniture industry consists mainly of small and medium-sized enterprises, and around 1 million workers in 127,000 entities are currently involved in furniture production with a production value representing almost one-quarter of the global furniture industry. 

In 2021, the furniture market achieved global sales of US$673 billion, up 12.2 percent from 2020. The most important exporter, in 2020, was China with an export value of US$69 billion, followed by Poland with exports of US$12.8 billion, followed by Germany, Vietnam and Italy in the range of US$12.3 to 10.4 billion. 

At the same time, China is also the largest importer of timber in the world, which it successfully uses in the furniture industry. The main factor influencing the competitiveness of the Western European furniture industry is the cost of production, in the form of the price of materials and human labour. 

Another phenomenon observed is the consolidation of the European furniture industry into larger units in the form of mergers or acquisitions, allowing large investments, modernisation and automation of their operations, which brings with it a threat to small enterprises. 

Currently, the furniture sector faces some problems, such as low production efficiency, and machining accuracy with a low degree of innovation, mainly in enterprises engaged in atypical production.

The main factors that businesses need to address are: increasing the product quality and design, standardisation and mass personalisation of the production, tools and equipment, increasing the productivity and innovation within a smart factory with targeted promotions, environmentally friendly materials, digitisation, 3D printing, furniture innovation with integrated technologies, such as smart lighting, and more.

According to the European Commission (EC), the power of Industry 5.0 is a societal goal that goes beyond job creation and development, becoming a resilient provider of prosperity by ensuring that manufacturing respects the limits of our planet and puts the well-being of human resources at the centre of the production process.

 

Case Study: Complete Integration Based On 7S Model

The complex development and innovation of an enterprise is a highly expensive and sophisticated process that is necessary to increase the production capacity, competitiveness and maintain its position in the market environment. 

The surveyed stakeholders in the furniture industry in innovative companies emphasise that the right level of innovation needs and the scope of the implementation must be chosen by companies according to their future vision, maturity of their own business, customers, structure and serial order. 

They agree on the current state of furniture companies, which is at the level of Industry 2.0. They point out that a drastic transition to such a high level will be a very costly and unfeasible process without the sufficient know-how. 

The question that businesses need to ask themselves is not whether to start implementing the system, but when and to what extent, since the partial implementation involved in a global system is more beneficial than none.

The entire implementation process includes steps that must be clearly defined, continuously monitored, analysed, evaluated, managed and communicated with the entire enterprise spectrum over the long term. 

The process is described using an analysis using the 7S model, where the critical factors necessary for the successful implementation of the furniture company in Industry 4.0 were evaluated using this strategic analytical method. This analysis aims to help operators understand the extent and structure of the changes in society and shows the process of implementing innovative technologies in furniture manufacturing companies.

 

Structure

Enterprise innovation requires the choice of an appropriate structured plan mapping the entire development, including the composition of the project team, the superiority of the development department to the corporate spectrum, the organisation and definition of the project team’s responsibilities, timetable or costs. 

The development plan as a whole must be divided into blocks identifying the individual phases of innovation, which must be continuously assessed in the context of the needs of the company. To effectively achieve the planned goal, the blocks are structurally divided into sub-sections, each section must be fully integrated into the process, tested, evaluated and assessed with respect to the planned plan.

The results of the interviews show the need for a comprehensive overview of the state within the modernised enterprise, including the life cycle of the project that passes through the enterprise system. According to the possibilities of the development, the company should be divided into departments (e.g., construction; engine room) and work cells (e.g., design software providing automatic production documentation, automatic material orders, and creation of milling programs; nesting/automatic saw and chaotic warehouse system with follow-up conveyor systems and quality reading sensors); these must be individually assessed in the context of the current state and possible development, digitised and interconnected in corporate networks. 

In the context of business management, it has been proven that it is necessary to assign a responsible person to each department who is a subordinate to the director of the enterprise. This allocation should be adapted to the individual needs of the entity, e.g.,

 

•Pre-production department: sales, design, development, accounting, construction, and warehouse;

•Production department: engine room (material cutting, banding, and CNC), other engine room, paint shop, pressing shop, and handicraft workshop;

•After production department: shipping, assembly, and logistics.

 

Before the actual development, it is necessary to analyse the current state of the department, draw conclusions and set goals that the company wants to achieve by the implementation. The development team is responsible for the development and working with the participating departments. As this is a complex process in which the individual sections intersect with each other, a communication map must be thoroughly created and responsibility for the final state within the innovation team must be determined.

 

Strategy

The strategy for the introduction of innovative technologies is based on the vision and goals set by the entity and shows a clear direction of the development. 

The preparatory phase of the project and the choice of the appropriate pace of implementation of innovative technologies is decisive for the timing and financing of the project. Failure to manage the transition to new systems and production processes will bring major problems, errors and downtime. 

The speed and depth of implementation are influenced by many factors, especially the size of the enterprise, the structure and seriality of production, the spatial layout of the enterprise, finances, know-how and others. 

According to the stakeholders, the prerequisite is not the implementation of all the attributes of Industry 4.0, but it is necessary to choose a strategically appropriate level and start with accessible, easily achievable goals that cover the needs of the entity.

In order to personalise the production, it is essential to select different production directions, including different technical–technological specifics affecting the workload of the production halls, warehouse spaces, type of input material, etc. 

A modern idea is the processing of unified board material and semi-finished products prepared for the possibility of effective processing by creating a network of customer–supplier links with other companies, where large enterprises can purchase semi-finished products or material from small companies in the form of massive parts in progress, which can then be more compactly machined on CNC machines, which will allow the reduction in the technological equipment of the enterprises. 

For a change, micro-enterprises can take a different range of semi-finished products or board products from large entities and then assemble them, thereby also indirectly participating in the development in the context of large companies.

Inter-company cooperation (friendly enterprises) on the development and sharing of experience are crucial strategic points that will increase the success factor of the entire implementation, and reduce setbacks and costs associated with any development. The links between the enterprise and the supply chain closely affect the inputs and outputs of the software and machinery products or services.

The financial feasibility and evaluation of the success of the project are one of the most important factors in strategic planning and any subsequent evaluations. The level of investment depends on the targeted changes and the degree of innovation that is planned. For small-scale entities, we are talking about gradual investments of tens of thousands of euros over a five-year horizon. 

For medium-sized and large enterprises, this can be hundreds of thousands of euros from long-term investment companies ensuring continuous innovation. An important criterion is the return on the entire project, it is essential to carry out an evaluation of the return on investment (repayment period) and in the use of the method of the net present value or internal return percentage to assess the effectiveness of the investments, which together will help to show whether the use of the investment is effective for the enterprise. 

Furthermore, in some sample cases, efficiency indicators have been useful to measure project-specific objectives, such as the scrap, energy and resource efficiency, and maintenance efforts. Finally, time indicators are purposeful, because Industry 4.0 aims to increase the speed of the processes throughout the value chain. 

An example is the investment in software and hardware equipment of the design department with an evaluation of the time in the work environment before and after the innovation. According to the respondents, the efficiency of the department is often increased by 30–50 percent.

Respondents were asked about the source of funds they use to invest in modern technology and in businesses (Figure 2). As part of the answers, they could also indicate a combination of more used options in the case of subsidies, because even in the case of subsidies, for example, 100 percent of the subsidy will not be obtained and the company must find another source of financing (e.g., subsidies + own resources). 

The number of responses is, therefore, recalculated to the total number of respondents (i.e., n = 30.3 percent of the total number of interviewees); therefore, it does not show 100 percent relative to the sum of the given relative frequencies.

According to respondents (n = 30.3 percent) from the ranks of the top management (Figure 2), investments for the development are most often paid from their own resources, which was confirmed by more than 77 percent of the surveyed managers, mainly in combination with a bank loan (50 percent of the respondents) or from any subsidies (50 percent of the respondents) or purely focused on Industry 4.0 (40.9 percent of the respondents). 

The general problem with the current set of subsidies is the targeting of complex innovations and entire plants of large enterprises, often of a corporate type. 

Companies planning to innovate sub-technological or mechanical equipment do not meet these challenges and, therefore, make investments mostly from their own resources, which is confirmed by the result of the survey, which indicates that only 40.9 percent of the respondents are interested in using subsidies related to Industry 4.0 and, where applicable, use the subsidy. 

Stakeholders also point to the complex administration of subsidies, which is often difficult for small businesses to implement. Here, it is possible to use the services of a specialised subsidy company, which will provide the time-consuming administration for a fee. Large and medium-sized enterprises often appoint a person who can cover and handle these formalities in the enterprise.

 

Systems

Smart integrations enable the production environment to be transformed into a smart and intelligent Industry 4.0 platform for the benefit of a sustainable society. By implementing the basic building blocks of Industry 4.0, the company gains a noticeable competitive advantage. 

Stakeholders recommend the development of Global Sophisticated Management Systems tailored to the corporate structure, or the use of one of the variants on the market with the simultaneous interconnection of all the current systems in the company. 

It is recommended to reduce the amount of software used, and procedures and habits, which can be replaced by a unified system ensuring the administration and management of not only the data, but the entire production flow, materials, information and people. A system offering complete monitoring of the furniture business uses the collection of large data (e.g., IOS sensors) stored on cloud storage. 

Their continuous evaluation allows for the interpretation of business results using fully customisable statistical reports with immediate responses from external machine service technicians to business owners. Not only the company itself, but also the entire business supply chain must be integrated into this communication–logistics circuit.

Industry 4.0 is a solution capable of coordinating the flow of information between all the departments within an enterprise using networks that facilitate communication between the different actors (machines, people, and equipment) of the process. The transfer of information in the enterprise is carried out using machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, which transforms the dialogue between man and machine. 

Furthermore, the exchange of information in the factory is carried out through the Internet of Things. Through this management module, a complete service for customers and suppliers is ensured, including the quality control of the material received and waste treatment for a more sustainable production process. 

It is also associated with the calculation of purchase requirements and automatically generates orders to suppliers while respecting the production and storage criteria used in the enterprise (on time, in stock), thus making the entire production process more sustainable. 

The original vision of Industry 4.0 was technology and innovation based on the warehouse management ‘Just In Time’, which the interviewees abandoned due to frequent supplier supply outages caused by anti-Covid measures or the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. 

By providing storage space, the entity binds considerable funds in short-term assets in order to increase insurance inventory, but businesses are now protected from operational outages due to a lack of production raw materials.

Modern enterprises use cyber twin technologies consisting of the creation and simulation of production. The conversion of all the products into a digital form will allow the creation of all the pre-production documents, an overview of the capacity utilisation of the company, material consumption, etc. In the production flow, QR codes with electronic documents and a 3D display of all models, production processes or programs are conditional. 

Businesses can have the solution tailor-made, which is very expensive, or find a similar existing software solution (e.g., from another industry) and have it adapted to the specific conditions of the enterprise.

 

Management Style

The priorities of the business development must be clearly defined in the corporate policy and, with them, the possibility of changes in the procedures and style of upper management must exist. 

Development project teams are made up of internal and external bodies, consisting of experts from different fields. They are made up of software developers and ICT experts, as software plays a key role in Industry 4.0. 

They are complemented by experts in sales, marketing and business development, as they know the needs of customers and the marketing of products or services. Specialists with knowledge of project management, technical engineers and others are also essential. Given the diversity of the members, the coordination of these teams is extremely important. 

Stakeholders in the furniture industry state that electing a competent person responsible for the development, who has the authority and control over the whole process, will increase the effect of the introduction by an average of 30 percent. 

Ongoing meetings are also important to assess the current state of the implementation, which take place at several levels, from management meetings to meetings of the production department at clearly defined time intervals. 

After the implementation is completed, a competent person must perform the service of the established systems, communicate with the managers of the individual departments and train any new workers.

An essential factor in the development is the creation of a software solution that manages the entire operation of the enterprise, including the economic department, data management, hardware, complex project flow, project management and monitoring, the division of labour and people management, shipping, warehouse management, design department, display of all the 3D data in production, management of assembly workers, etc. 

This software must be fully applicable to a wide range of subjects available in an online interface, ensuring a central view of all the information and transparent project statuses. With the increase in production and the acceleration of the production cycle, this solution is the main factor in ensuring the success of the management processes. 

It is also important that the employees are prepared for the changes that the implementation of Industry 4.0 will bring. Only those who are involved in Industry 4.0 were interviewed for the following question (see Figure 3).

Of the total sample of respondents, 81.8 percent of the respondents (Figure 3) deal with Industry 4.0. It is evident that in the vast majority of the cases, only the top management of the companies deals with the communication with the employees regarding the preparation for the innovation and the actual implementation of the innovations, occurring in 54.5 percent of the cases.

Only 27.3 percent of enterprises have specialised development staff. This is a big problem throughout the implementation, because the dedicated employee is responsible for the undertaken work, the development process and the results of the investments, and the efficiency is then easily measurable. 

Otherwise, those responsible for running the business are overloaded and the whole process is often inefficient or prematurely stopped due to a lack of time and the inefficiency of the investments.

 

Collaborators

Organisational changes have an impact on the employees. Qualifications for technical, economic and managerial positions must be of a high standard. All the respondents agreed on the need to be open to new practices and technologies. In addition, people working in smart factories must master the basic skills and competencies, which are: trust in digital technologies, basic knowledge of ICT systems, working with electronic data and willingness to self-develop and retrain.

The skills of workers can be developed and improved through programmes or applications designed to train people, for example, through scenarios or e-learning. Motivating employees to perform better or to be open to innovative technologies can be strengthened by a company, for example, through rewards and benefits.

The interviewed managers also agreed that after the introduction of Industry 4.0 in a company that does not deal with atypical production, there was a significant reduction in the monotonous and repetitive physically demanding tasks that were taken over by assistance systems, which freed up the capacity of the existing employees and allowed them to retrain or fill newly created positions in the modernised entity. 

These workers are usually moved to more skilled positions involving greater responsibility and authority, such as the transition from manual labour to the management of machines and people. This is also related to the increasing psychological pressure on workers and the increase in mental illness, burnout and other related illnesses, which is related to the increased entitlement to the mental activity of the employees. 

If this situation is underestimated, it often leads to the failure of key people in the company and disruption of the system.

Stakeholders stress the importance of establishing cooperation with secondary schools so that the theory is effectively translated into practice and students have the necessary competencies when starting employment. Close cooperation with universities and secondary schools will ensure that future employees acquire the basics of the relevant skills already applied in the school system.

 

Competences & Skills

According to the stakeholders, the key competencies and skills of the enterprise that influence innovation include a high willingness to learn, openness to new things, promotion of creativity and generation of ideas, entrepreneurial thinking, and democratic leadership. An essential factor in the implementation of innovative technologies in an enterprise is its ability to quickly adapt to the changes that have arisen, to adapt the competencies of the workers themselves, to adapt the production flow to modern approaches and to adapt the information and communication flow. 

A global problem is the lack of skilled workers who are open to new challenges. Scepticism and misunderstanding of a complex idea often led to discouragement and negative thinking about the processes being introduced. 

Workers in local places often do not see the importance of compliance with the system and do not fulfil their job description correctly, which results in inaccurate data transfer, distortion of the production flow and quality of the work. 

Here, the enterprise must be able to conduct thorough training and learning of all the procedures, to ensure the correct operation of the entire system. The company’s capabilities also include motivating workers to perform better or having an open approach.

 

Shared Values

A corporate culture reflecting the stability and maturity of the company goes hand in hand with the innovations and technologies of Industry 4.0. An interconnected system where machines, software and people fully cooperate with each other will enable the effective control of the communication and dissemination of all the data and information, available from anywhere in real time in the online environment. 

An interconnected market segment offering cooperation of various large entities within the business supply chain will enable the development of companies and inter-company data sharing, which will move the enterprise itself, whether it is a small or large company. Changes in the corporate culture should be initiated downward by senior management. 

Poor communication about the importance of the implementation can cause the entire development to fail. In this context, the experts emphasise that the corporate culture should always focus on the customer and his or her demand. The expected benefits since the introduction of Industry 4.0 in the company are evaluated according to a five-point Likert scale (1 = low importance, 5 = high importance) (Figure 4).

Figure 4 reflects the current understanding of the extent to which businesses perceive the importance and benefits of innovation and development. The question was displayed to respondents who deal with Industry 4.0 in their companies (out of the total number of respondents, it is 30.3 percent). 

The graph shows a mostly positive trend (importance and high importance) with overlap of all questions of more than 60–70 percent. 

The respondents see the greatest potential in increasing the work efficiency and reducing repetitive operations (high importance for 55 percent, importance for 30 percent of the businesses). The respondents identified almost identical benefits in terms of cost reduction, competitive advantage, ease of working with data, and improved organisational planning and management (importance and high importance), exceeding 30 percent in both cases. 

The respondents reported the lowest potential for staff reduction, which tends to be rather neutral in the attitudes of the respondents of medium importance, but shows the most balanced answers, which indicates a lack of inconsistency in the opinions on this issue. 

As the level of turnover and efficiency increases with the increasing innovations of the enterprise, the enterprise is able to create more value with the current number of employees, which each entity feels differently. 

The respondents have a relatively neutral opinion (ranking third in importance) on the added benefit for the customer with a value of 42.5 percent, which is contrary to the understanding of servitisation within the connection of the customer with the production process. 

The result can be clarified in such a way that companies are not yet aware of the importance of this point, which will allow a competitive advantage and cost reduction in the pre-production part of the enterprise.

In the following chart (Figure 5), the respondents could also indicate a combination of multiple options because they may have multiple concurrent barriers to the innovation process.

The respondents (n = 30.3 percent) who deal with innovation in their entities perceive a major problem, primarily the lack of skilled labour and financial resources (Figure 4) (more than 72.7 percent of the respondents). The smallest obstacle appears to be the lack of vision of the company (9.1 percent). 

A weakness of the internal policy is also the scepticism of the employees (45.5 percent), which fundamentally affects the speed and efficiency of the implementation of the innovations, the low level of technology and software of the enterprise (40.9 percent) assumes high input costs associated with the technology that must be integrated into the company as part of the innovations.

 

Technological Components

Understanding the individual building blocks of Industry 4.0 in the context of furniture companies is the first step toward the possibility of its application in companies. The intensive application of these innovative technologies to corporate structures will help them achieve better growth and efficiency. 

Furthermore, the stakeholders agreed that the application of building blocks must be carried out gradually according to the set goals, maturity and specificity of the production. They also have a unified opinion on the implementation of building blocks in small and medium-sized enterprises, where they must choose the level of the technology according to the future visions of the companies. 

For example, enterprises with a predominance of piece-by-piece and highly atypical production will use only some elements that are effectively complemented by human labour. On the contrary, the complete application of all the building elements can be carried out in the construction of a new enterprise engaged in mass production.

When implementing innovation, it is also important to know which technologies are currently being used within the companies (Figure 6).

Cloud storage is also used frequently (77.2 percent), which is probably also due to the common use of this technology in one’s personal life. At the same time, we can see the positive impact that corporate education has, for example, in the form of automated services in modern facilities. For example, mobile device manufacturers motivate the ordinary user to use some services, while teaching them their use and meaning, which is what creates and connects Company 4.0 and ‘Customer 4.0’.

Cyber protection technologies have the second highest frequency of use (40.7 percent). Here, we should pay attention and give even more emphasis to this building block. In all the company’s data, which are recorded in electronic form on cloud services distributed on the company’s internal networks, a possible cyber-attack could have destructive consequences or even fatal ones. Artificial intelligence is used (3.4 percent), which confirms the opinion of stakeholders that artificial intelligence is very difficult to apply in a furniture company depending on the factors of the order structure, serial production, and others.

The Industrial Revolution has created incentives for the development of technological innovations, but at the same time, it shows, in the overall process, the importance of human resources, which have a major impact on work in terms of education and the requirement for sufficiently skilled workers. 

As a big problem with the slow adoption of Industry 4.0, the authors cite insufficient promotion of key technologies. The main problem in the entire furniture industry is the shortage of workers, while the demand for skilled labour is constantly growing. Year-on-year, the number of employees has decreased by an average of 1.8 percent per year over a ten-year period. 

These facts are fuelling increased investment by businesses in the modernisation of production and software technologies. It should be in the interest of enterprises and firms planning to modernise operations to actively retrain the resources moving in the labour market. 

An aspect that raises concerns in the introduction of Industry 4.0 is the current education system setup. With the advent of digitisation and robotisation, production processes as such are fundamentally changing, and the education system should respond to this immediately. 

Outdated joinery shops have nothing to do with modern production, and school leavers usually take a year to learn and master digitised processes after taking up employment, which fundamentally hampers the development of the companies. 

The solution would be to establish cooperation between schools and technically advanced companies where pupils would complete an apprenticeship, thereby increasing their awareness of a wide range of possibilities, as is the case, for example, in the automotive industry, where Škoda Auto has its own university and, thus, prepares graduates who exactly match the needs of their operations.

The challenge for today’s businesses is to modernise to improve their competitive position; lists four possible paths: process modernisation, product modernisation, functional modernisation that involves design activities and a change in the value chain, implying a transition from furniture to other wood-based products, such as, for example, toys, musical instruments, industrial products, etc. 

The changing production environment requires the need for a more flexible and efficient production process in order to face market trends and demand diversity. 

An important role in this context is played by the development of information and communication technologies to achieve the highest possible process efficiency, improve material flow and increase the efficiency of the resources and technical and technological equipment of the enterprise, while the rapid reduction in high production costs will ensure an increase in the competitiveness and productivity. 

The most important obstacles to the application of Industry 4.0 are low series, atypical production and constant adaptation to the parameters and properties of the processed material. 

Stakeholders also agree on these specifics in the furniture industry and point to the applicability of the Industry 4.0 concept in particular for plants processing homogeneous material with a high repetition rate rather than for enterprises producing highly atypical production or combining the processing of a massive raw material in the form of lumber with board material. 

Unification, standardisation and flexibility and production flow will contribute to the merging of some production phases in order to eliminate classical processes and single-purpose equipment (e.g., comparison cutters, ripsaws, and dryers) with a high consumption of energy, time and raw materials performing partial simple operations, replacing them with CNC technology to achieve optimisation will ensure a reduction in costs and mass production. 

The use of modern technologies will make the entire production process more efficient. For example, nesting multi-purpose technology will ensure that the part and all surface holes are shaped and milled, eliminating the need for additional machining processes on a five-axis CNC for approximately 30 percent of the parts, thus eliminating one production step and freeing up human and machine capacity. 

Together with a chaotic warehouse system and an automated labelling unit, they form an efficient production cell suitable for companies involved in piece production. The development of standardisation and seriality causes the transfer of furniture production from small workshops to large units.

The fundamental question that a company must ask itself is whether the application of innovative technologies will make production more efficient. The amount of turnover, the number of employees and the size of the enterprise predetermine the fact whether the enterprise should deal with the issue of innovative solutions or whether it is necessary for the entity in the future. 

After crossing certain boundaries of individual indicators, this is a practically necessary act for the enterprise. When driving innovation, it is crucial to know the incentives or factors that, in many cases, represent the basic driver of revenue, competitive advantage and sustainable growth of the business, while measuring their effectiveness. 

The continuous improvement of construction and material technologies in series production requires the standardisation of tools and equipment. By reducing process procedures, organising the enterprise with the creation of narrow production and implementing innovative technologies, production can be made more efficient by up to 50 percent, depending on the maturity of the enterprise and the degree of implementation of the innovative changes in the procedures and tasks of the individual workers. 

The capacity of the company increased by 21 percent and the production cycle time decreased by 40 percent. This can be achieved by using software to optimise data and people management, cloud storage to share all documents and data networks to distribute information throughout the production flow between people and machines. 

These and other technologies ensure the flow of data in real time, which, in terms of sustainability, leads to the realization of sustainable production, and from a sustainability perspective, this leads to the realisation of sustainable production, whereby detailed information on each point in the production process can optimise the use of resources and energy across the entire value network.

Stakeholders emphasise that it is always necessary to use technology that is one degree more advanced than society currently needs. The whole process of integration takes several years and threatens to be undersized when the processes are fully implemented. Development is also a never-ending process of learning, improving and innovating. 

Innovation is the basis for sustainable growth in entrepreneurship and the innovation activity is an important source of competitiveness, economic growth and the image of every business. However, regardless of the amount of investment in the innovation, it is not guaranteed that it will always be spent efficiently.

The Industrial Internet of Things is a key component of intelligent manufacturing, contributing to the building of a smart system of products and services. By integrating cutting-edge technologies, such as networking, radio frequency identification (RFID) sensing, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, using IoT to create a ubiquitous connection in the manufacturing process, productivity and sustainability are thereby increased.

 

Digital Production To Digital Society

Industry 4.0 is an autonomous system using large-scale technologies, such as artificial intelligence, which transfers the decision-making capabilities (mechanisms) belonging to humans to electronic systems and machines. 

In this concept, there is work that ensures the prosperity of businesses by thinking of consumers in Industry 4.0, but, in an individual assessment, it ignores the human factor [10] Although Industry 4.0 is still in the early stages of development and its main successes can be expected in 2020–2025, the picture of the new paradigm of Industry 5.0 is already noticeable.

Unlike Industry 4.0, Society 5.0 is not limited to the manufacturing sector, but solves social problems with the help of the so-called Industry 4.0 integration of the physical and virtual space. In fact, Society 5.0 is a society in which advanced IT technologies, the Internet of Things, robots, and artificial intelligence are applied, augmented reality (AR) is actively used in people’s everyday lives, in industry, healthcare and other spheres, not for progress, but for the benefit and comfort of each person.

In this respect, Industry 4.0 can only be applied to advanced furniture operations focused on mass production. An example can be the serial production of plate material, where it is possible to solve the machine in the individual part of the operations. 

In the case of production that is atypical, human inclination is always necessary. Thus, it is necessary to correctly analyse when, in the production process, the human element is desirable. 

In e-production, for example, the manual edge of shaped parts, the loading of parts into a woodworking machine or the actual assembly of atypical products, requiring fine motor skills and other ‘skills’, remain a human domain or are even necessary (from a technological and economic point of view). 

These two factors can subsequently be added. An example is the atypical production of variously curved bars or curved lamella walls, where a high proportion of individual modifications are made at the customer’s request, which cannot be performed without manual skill and human creativity, the semi-work of humans and robots, to which machines perform physically demanding work tasks, monotonous repetitive work activities and even operations requiring precision or potentially dangerous work. 

At the same time, these industrial, collaborative robots will work directly with humans, without protective cages and similar types of worker protection when working with machines.

It is important to emphasise the idea that Industry 4.0 has never been completely human-friendly in the furniture industry. At every stage of the Industrial Revolution, the human factor was part of the production process. 

Now project managers automatically describe Industry 5.0 without being aware of it. The question is, therefore, whether it is possible to skip Industry 4.0 in the development line, or whether it is just a ‘novelty’ that existed.

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