5G Will Revolutionize Manufacturing Technologies

October 14, 2019 - 7 minutes read

A few centuries ago, radical improvements in manufacturing technology brought us the Industrial Revolution. Thanks to 5G, we find ourselves on the cusp of another wave of innovation: Industry 4.0.

Before, tracking data across systems (even in one factory location) was next to impossible. Executives would rely on approximations, machines would get repaired only when they broke down, and variability in production quality remained high. With 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturing and supply chain operations will reach unprecedented levels of productivity and efficiency while reducing waste to a new low.

More Data, Less Problems

Using the data generated by IoT sensors and systems, we can now quantify, measure, and monitor everything on the factory floor. This decreases any uncertainty, enhances efficiency, and ultimately means more money is moved to the bottom line. But it isn’t only manufacturing facilities that will benefit from IoT, AI, and 5G.

Applying these new technologies and protocols to an enterprise’s data leads to stronger optimizations across the entire company, from the manufacturing department to the retail locations. This newfound digital intelligence can work around the clock, in real-time, and it doesn’t need time off to rest and recharge. It’s not only economically and fiscally affordable, but it also brings non-numerical benefits, like an increase in value, a decrease in risk, and, of course, higher customer happiness.

Make no mistake though: data isn’t as easy to encrypt and store as it is to generate it. But recently, it has become vastly cheaper to safely store and analyze your information. Popular tools like AI, machine learning, cloud computing, and edge computing offer a variety of options to automatically or manually glean actionable insights from data.

5G makes things run faster, sure, but its true advantage is how it can be incorporated into applications to retrieve data reliably, seamlessly, and almost in real-time. When 5G replaces current cellular paradigms like 4G, it will bring better latency, speed, reliability, coverage, and bandwidth.

This transition won’t be overnight, so expect to see iterative improvements occurring over the next few years. Great things take time and work. Without 5G, there would be no mention of Industry 4.0; Wi-Fi’s improvement rate is too slow, while 4G’s speed has simply maxed out.

Using 5G to Improve Manufacturing

5G will bring limitless possibilities to manufacturing. Let’s cover a few manufacturing use cases that the new, faster wireless network will bring in the near future.

Location-Based Manufacturing

Garnering highly specific and granulated data in real-time from anywhere in the supply chain will create massive improvements in efficiency and customer satisfaction. Operational risks would decrease, and executives, engineers, and analysts will be able to track and monitor nearly anything in their operation. For example, at a quick glance, they’ll be able to deduce the progress being made in a single day, whether the materials needed for tomorrow’s work will arrive on time, and if they’re on track to finish a project on time.

With this knowledge and insightful intelligence on-hand, supply chains can be optimized in every single aspect. Long gone will be the days when an NYC developer has only a rough estimate of when construction materials will arrive from Idaho. Questions like these will be answered almost immediately, and the work pipeline can flow smoothly without any human-caused delays or errors.

Sensors in Manufacturing

Sensors are an integral part of the IoT systems that manufacturers use to generate and collect data. Sensors can track location, but they also can keep an eye on more specific things, like humidity, temperature, speeds, and chemical composition.

Using these granular characteristics of the IoT system and the manufacturer’s products, making decisions in real-time, predicting trends, and analyzing performance will bring much more insight into the system for manufacturers.

Machine-to-Machine in Manufacturing

5G will bring higher, more well-rounded intelligence to machines in IoT systems. Edge computing, the process of computing results on the device itself without utilizing the cloud for much of the process, is growing in popularity due to its benefits of faster analysis and better reliability. In a way, edge computing communicates directly with other machines in the system, creating a machine-to-machine (M2M) ecosystem.

Web applications, machines, devices, and sensors can all communicate seamlessly, optimize in real-time, and collaborate to get information where it needs to go. For IoT developers, this presents more flexibility and less risk for their IoT applications.

5G Is the Future of Manufacturing

We’re looking forward to 5G’s impact on manufacturing, from materials sourcing all the way to the customer swiping their credit card. 5G will improve the speed and algorithms behind AI and machine learning applications, and it will keep everything running smoothly in the background.

In manufacturing, there are thousands of data points that go into every single iteration of a product, and 5G will allow us to quickly combine them into an understandable, continuous model.

With 5G, we will generate data from more sensors and devices, encrypt it faster, and pull it back down for analysis in a more reliable way. This will decrease latency, which is the delay in time that data transfer takes to start processing, and it’ll make our smart factories smarter, faster, and more efficient.

As consumers, we know 5G will bring better and more reliable speeds to our home Internet and our cell phones. But manufacturing employees may actually be getting the best benefits from this disruptive technology.

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