Moving on Up! 5G will Pave the Way for a More Connected Industry 4.0
The future is here, and 5G is determined to prove it.
Experts are certain that in the coming months and years 5G will create a breakthrough in terms of technological capability, thus potentially reinventing the way we are presently working; 5G will bring faster speeds, bigger network capacities and lower latency. From entertainment to healthcare, 5G will transform entire industry sectors with its ability to accelerate digital transformation.
Take the manufacturing sector, for example. 5G will entirely change the concept of manufacturing for the digital era, driving the future of Industry 4.0, which already sees businesses shifting to an increasingly connected infrastructure and making use of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence.
Many may argue that the transition to a smarter, more connected industrial age has already been underway, but 5G will certainly take it to the “next level”. 5G offers ultra-reliable, low-latency mobile broadband connectivity that is crucial for supporting critical machine communication. Through this combination of enhanced communication with edge computing, businesses will be given the “key” to unlock the power of their data.
According to the market report Industry 4.0 Market, Technologies & Industry: 2019-2023, the transformation of the economy being brought about by Industry 4.0 means that business processes such as supply, manufacturing, maintenance, delivery and customer service will all be connected via the Industrial IoT systems. These extremely flexible value networks will require new forms of collaboration between companies, both nationally and globally.
The research firm HIS Markit, which is boosted by 5G, also predicts that the Internet of Things technology (IoT) will play a significant role in the future of Industry 4.0, and by 2025, over 75 billion IoT devices are expected to be installed. According to the McKinsey report, this will create annual revenues amounting to trillions of dollars for smart factories.
Apart from strengthening the foundation for IoT devices, 5G also enables businesses to take advantage of data-driven technologies such as AI and machine learning. IoT devices, computer vision and cloud-based AI can help to automate processes so that human employees can be upskilled to work on more complex tasks.
With the help of IoT sensors, 5G can assist manufactures in optimizing their operations; IoT sensors can monitor the performance of equipment and workers so that improvements in the workflow and processes can be identified. According to the International Data Corporation, IoT technology can enhance supply-chain productivity by 15%, and according to Accenture, IoT-based monitoring can reduce overall maintenance costs by up to 30%.
The fascinating part of all of this is how the low latency offered by next-generation connectivity can enable remote operation of equipment, which allows for the automation of machinery and the use of untethered robots, helping to make factories safer.
5G infrastructure can also help unlock actionable insights from the vast amounts of data generated by the ever-growing number of connected devices.
Data analytics can bring operational efficiencies and cost savings while logistics can also be enhanced with real-time tracking data. Many manufacturing businesses will make use of private, on-premise 5G networks.
These can be modified to suit individual organisations and offer immense reliability due to the amazingly low latency. Even though public 5G networks are still in their early days, this demonstrates how businesses can start planning their 5G future now.
In one of the first real-world applications of 5G-powered Industry 4.0, Nokia carried out a successful trial at its base station factory in Oulu, Finland. Powered by Intel technology, the trial was carried out in collaboration with network operator Telia and Finnish software startup Finwe and delivered network edge and core cloud capabilities. Edge computing combined with 5G means that data can be processed closer to where it’s needed, significantly reducing latency.
During its trial, a process on the assembly line was monitored using a video feed, enabling machine learning to identify any inconsistencies so that the operator could correct them in real-time. This helped to ensure the reliability and quality of the finished products. An additional trial demonstrated the ability of 5G to enable Telia to offer cloud remote service delivery for business customers.
From sourcing and production to distribution and sales, smart factories that are highly efficient, scalable and versatile will completely transform the manufacturing sector. Industry 4.0’s future depends on the success of 5G. Afterall, connectivity lies at the heart of Industry 4.0.