How 5G Will Turbocharge the Smart Factory
The smart factory sounds like a futuristic phenomenon, but it is present-day reality where machinery and equipment work together to improve processes through automation and self-optimization.
Factories become “smart” through the use of the Internet of Things (IoT)—sensors, robots, CMMS, and more—all working together to produce real-time analytics, giving manufacturers the ability to create automated processes that increase productivity and limit machine downtime.
Most smart factories of today are currently operating efficiently on an Ethernet, WiFi, or reliable 4G LTE network; however, the fourth generation of mobile connectivity will soon be overpowered by the number of connected devices found throughout the factory floor. While 4G was great to kickstart industry 4.0, 5G’s ability to handle the influx of the world’s connected devices will send it into overdrive.
The Impact of 5G on Industry 4.0
The Fourth Industrial Revolution would not have been possible with the fast broadband speeds of 4G LTE. But with speeds 100 times faster than those of 4G and the ability to handle up to 10,000 times more data, 5G will become the first cellular, wireless platform to offer reliable machine-to-machine systems—the digital infrastructure of tomorrow’s smart factories.
Early studies conducted by the American Society for Quality have shown that 82% of early adopters of 5G have increased productivity efficiency and have reported a 49% decrease in product defects. 5G’s contribution to this overall improvement in production output is estimated to boost global GDP by $3 trillion and provide over 22 million jobs by the 2035.
5G’s Improvements to the Modern Smart Factory
The adoption and implementation of the 5G network is going to revolutionize the manufacturing industry as we know it. In addition to increased productivity and efficiency, here are a few other benefits a smart factory will realize when operating on a 5G network:
While most manufacturers are accustomed to using Ethernet, WiFi, or 4G to connect factory devices, these networks are not always the most flexible. In contrast, 5G will allow manufacturers to adjust the network to their needs both on and off the factory floor. It will also help ease the introduction and utilization of devices like robots and sensors on a fast, reliable network.
The flexibility of 5G also allows for tailoring to specific machines and operations without losing speed, coverage, or security encryption. This allows manufacturers to slice and dice the network to fit their needs—which according to a recent study by Ericsson and BT, is actually the most economically sound model for IoT service delivery
Real-Time Predictive Maintenance
It’s estimated that the manufacturing industry as a whole incurs $50 billion in unplanned downtime costs each year. Real-time analytics provided by 5G’s speed will allow manufacturers to proactively gauge the wear and tear of their machines even faster, rather than taking a slow, reactive approach.
Supply Chain Unification
5G will enable supply chains to transition from independent locations that are managed separately to a web of interwoven connected devices—allowing for strategic purchasing that supports customer demand at the lowest price.
If 4G was the catalyst for industry 4.0, then 5G will be its nitro boost.