Future Factory: How 5G will transform industry, networking and communications

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Manufacturing looks set to become one of the first industries to be transformed by 5G. Until now, the full potential of IoT has not been fully realised as network capacity, speed and latency have been barriers. 5G could remove all these obstacles.

One of the critical use cases for 5G is manufacturing. Industry 4.0, which encapsulates the ideas behind the intelligent factory rely upon robust, secure and flexible communications. The current 4G infrastructure will give way to dynamic networks that manufacturers can shape to their precise needs.

The ability to connect all areas of their production lines to coordinated and integrated control systems delivered by network slicing  has been in development for over a decade. However, the services envisioned required a fast, low-latency network. 5G looks set to become the delivery mechanism for Industry 4.0.

Andrew Rogoyski, Director of Innovation, Roke Manor Research told Silicon: “The key benefits of 5G are low latency, ubiquity and bandwidth, i.e. much more data, much faster, with smaller delays, everywhere. The key industrial processes that will benefit from this are inspection and supply chain management. Manufacturers will gain much greater insights and control over their processes at every stage because they will instrument everything, with data flowing in real time to analytics systems, improving quality and production times.”

With Ericsson stating in their report: “There is an opportunity to improve manufacturing processes by enabling connectivity through smart sensors and real-time transmissions. The benefits of these technologies alone justify the installation of a private enterprise cellular network in a factory, and the value potential is considerable. Once a 5G network is established, a truly automated factory can be realised.”

The speed of development to deliver the new communications services that 5G can provide will be dependent on each business and how its legacy systems, current working practices and future development strategies factor in the services that 5G can offer. Ultimately, 5G and IoT are a powerful combination, but the C-Suite will need convincing that the nascent services 5G will initially offer can form the foundation of future IoT development and what this can mean when ROI is considered.

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