5G teleommunications technology is a game-changer for manufacturers. According to the consulting firm STL Partners, the benefits of 5G to the global manufacturing industry could amount to $740 billion by 2030. Manufacturers will use 5G connectivity to leverage technologies such as automation, AI/ML, Internet of Things (IoT), AR/VR, and robotics, enabling them to move toward the “Factory of the Future.” It’s clear 5G connectivity will be essential in their transformation to “smart manufacturing.” But where can manufacturers begin?
Unique 5G Benefits for Manufacturing
Manufacturers typically use wired or wireless technologies (Wi-Fi and cellular) for their operations, but reliability and scalability are substantial concerns. The power of 5G technology can play a crucial role across entire manufacturing value chain, delivering three key advantages:
- Ultra-reliability & security: The significantly higher data rates of 5G – reaching up to 10 Gbps – are far greater than Wi-Fi or any cellular wireless mechanism. This represents huge value for mission-critical manufacturing applications.
- Low latency: 5G eliminates the need of wired connectivity, enabling the high speed manufacturing environment with higher flexibility and lower latency.
- Device density & data volume: Finally, 5G augments IoT capacity by supporting far more sensors and devices, leading to massively connected factories.
For manufacturers, these 5G advantages can improve efficiency, productivity, and financial performance throughout their end-to-end operations.
5G & Manufacturing Sustainability
5G can also play a significant role when it comes to sustainability. The manufacturing sector is a big consumer of non-renewable energy and natural resources. By enabling enhanced interconnection of production lines, robots, and machinery for smart and digital factories, “Green 5G” can lower energy costs and improve production sustainability:
- On-demand factory production: Reconfigurable and adaptive to consumer demand
- High-precision manufacturing: Ensures zero defects to save resources and energy
- Significant emissions reduction: Higher use of renewable resources
5G Cases for Manufacturing
Key 5G features – enhanced mobile broad band (eMBB), ultra-reliable low latency communication (uRLLC), and massive machine type communications (mMTC) – support multiple manufacturing use cases across three broad categories:
1. Information Technology
- 5G LAN for offices: Enterprises are not required to build separate, dedicated networks, saving maintenance and network construction cost.
- Mobile edge computing for IT systems:Instead of sending all the data to cloud for processing, the edge network analyzes, processes, and stores the data closer to the customer.
2. Operational Technology
- Smart supply chains & warehouses: Enabling inventory control platforms, automated guided vehicles, warehouse management systems, automated picking tools.
- Logistics: Monitoring environmental conditions of the consignment, location tracking, route optimisation, virtual mechanic, etc.
- Just in time (JIT) manufacturing: Complete elimination of production delays and pauses and accelerating response times with suppliers and consumers.
- Infrastructure management: Large-scale automated tracking and monitoring facilities for smart factories.
- Video surveillance & security: Real-time response to security incidents, mobile and fixed Inspection and supervision using drones and video analytics.
5G & Industry 4.0
Automation and information technology were essential to powering previous industrial revolutions, and this will be case as Industry 4.0 revolutionizes manufacturing with autonomous systems using computer vision, data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
The key 5G use cases for Industry 4.0 include:
- Connected Asset Monitoring: Real-time asset data analysis can provide a powerful tool for productivity improvement in the short-, medium- and long-terms.
- Connected Warehouse: A data-driven, connected warehouse environment can automate end-to-end operation with negligible errors.
- Predictive Maintenance: Data analysis tools and techniques used to detect defects or irregularity in operational technologies can anticipate failures and improve operations.
- Logistics & Fleet Management: Real-time data about locations and massive device connectivity can guarantee compliance across fleet operations and lead to lower energy costs (and emissions).
- Quality Management: Agile quality management systems can enable regular and collaborative interactions with current and potential customers for idea generation, development, and realization.
5G Benefits for Smart Manufacturing
5G technology will also enable the “smart manufacturing” enterprises of the future and deliver multiple benefits to those who adopt it:
- Ability to handle mass personalization and customization
- Improved productivity (by reducing failure rates)
- Accelerate design to manufacturing process
- Much higher quality (and potential to achieve zero defects)
- Improved plant safety (by anticipating and reducing failures)
5G & IOT Convergence
The maturity of 5G and IoT and their convergence can transform manufacturing sector. In today’s extended manufacturing enterprise, data does not flow linearly, but moves back and forth through a multidimensional ecosystem, enabling manufacturers to respond quickly to potential breakdowns. IoT devices produce massive amounts of data, enabling predictive analytics that lead preventive measures and the resolution of anomalies occurring in the manufacturing process. 5G technology enables manufacturers to really put IoT data to work, and these converged technologies can generate huge benefits in the long run.
For example, workers equipped with AR/VR headsets will be free to move anywhere on the factory floor and stay connected to the private 5G network. While they are interacting with IoT devices, they will be able to detect potential errors through simulations. 5G’s network slicing feature will also support such enterprise use cases simultaneously. This convergence provides a network platform for the customers and vendors to integrate 5G and IoT easily and securely.
Wipro helps manufacturing organizations drive enterprise and business transformation, while fostering ROI. Our expertise in the digital domain – across industrial process manufacturing, automotive and aerospace, and defence – helps customers transform processes, product design, supply chain, and aftermarket services to achieve digital transformation of manufacturing processes.
The convergence of IoT and 5G will enhance resilience and agility. These combined technologies can be leveraged to help enterprises realize their vision of Industry 4.0 and establish enhanced productivity, customer satisfaction and increased ROI.