What Industrial 5G Can Do for Future Manufacturing

In the latest digital age, competition is at an all-time high in the manufacturing industry, giving manufacturers the ability to leverage state-of-the-art technologies to stand tall in the market. Though, the introduction of 5G networks can be optimistic here as it will offer companies the opportunity to create factories smarter. Just like the energy and utility sector, manufacturing represents one of the most significant sectors of revenue potential for telecom operators addressing industry digitalization with 5G.

The Industrial 5G applications consist of support for three distinct types of factory communication, enhanced mobile broadband, machine-type communication, and ultra-reliable low-latency communications.

Enhanced mobile broadband communications is likely to utilize 5G’s high data rates and increased coverage, compared to 4G. This will open up wireless applications in areas like augmented and virtual reality. ON the other hand, Massive Machine-Type Communication is intended to provide wide area coverage and enable different kinds of IoT devices to be connected per square kilometer. This communication is also aimed at offering connectivity that features low software and hardware requirements from the connected devices, and support for low-energy, battery-optimizing operation.

Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication makes use of 5G’s high system reliability and reaction times in the low millisecond range. And potential applications are seen in process automation for closed-loop control, mobile control panels with unified safety functionality, mobile robots and motion control.

Industrial 5G Making Factories Smarter

In the manufacturing sector, 5G offers vital network capabilities as low latency and high reliability are needed to support critical applications. The 5G communications standard offers higher bandwidth and ability for more data to be sent in real-time, compared with 4G. This higher bandwidth will enable higher flexibility, lower cost and shorter lead times for factories production reconfiguration, layout changes and alterations.

5G will not only make real-time wireless sensor networks and location and asset tracking easier and convenient, but also allow plant managers in factories to rely on seamless communication with a fleet of autonomous vehicles without worrying about network failures. Its high bandwidth and connection frequency secure omnipresent connectivity and will be able to replace wired connections.

Though switching to 5G is not only an inexpensive proposition, but there are requirements to upgrade the infrastructure so it will accommodate it.

While 5G runs on the less crowded higher frequency spectrum, approximately 6 GHz, or by using millimeter waves on new radio frequencies anywhere between 30 and 300 GHz, it can easily be blocked and absorbed by rain, and even humidity. Thus, this will require installing small-cell networks with smaller antennas placed closer together.

So, with the next generation of the industrial revolution being triggered by the integration of emerging technology, the impact of 5G has on Industry 4.0 will be inimitable. It will provide opportunities for manufacturers to build smart factories that can embrace and take advantage of the evolving technology powering the industry.