The Manufacturing Institute released a study that examined 5G wireless connectivity and its potential impact within the manufacturing sector, RT Insights reports. The authors noted that “5G is a significant step beyond 4G,” and while manufacturers initially may use LTE for video streaming and real-time applications that don’t need much latency, they expect LTE and 5G to co-exist, “on the same private networks for at least the next five years.”
Dr. Shawn DuBravac of Avrio Institute and his co-authors also noted that 5G technology can boost wireless networks well beyond what the previous wireless generations could. These enhanced capabilities include higher system capacity, lower latency and increased device connectivity.
“5G can help realize the ideal of a modular factory where machinery can be quickly reconfigured to optimize production,” the report said. “It can facilitate data collection from a dense population of sensors at a previously impossible scale. And it will be able to head off problems by enabling systems that automatically schedule maintenance or order replacements for consumables to ensure there is minimal downtime.”
Here are three key apps that can benefit the manufacturing industry that DuBravac and his co-authors believe 5G networks can make possible:
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
These device deployments help measure factory machines’ efficiency as well as any environmental issues that could impact the operation like humidity and temperature, according to the report. IIoT sensors can give factory floor workers information on their machines’ health in real time, which helps keep everyone safe. IIoT can also alert manufacturers to when a machine part needs to be replaced so they can be more proactive with repairs.
Safety and security
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of having a private 5G network is the number of Internet-connected devices that can operate on it. 5G allows manufacturers the opportunity to deploy high-definition video streams from fixed cameras, or even drones, to help keep their facilities secure. Monitoring devices can also alert staff when equipment is failing. This solution is even more effective when it works in conjunction with a computer vision system that reviews the video and spots dangerous situations in real time, according to the study.
Self-driving vehicles and robotics
Autonomous vehicles are not new, but they’ve yet to reach their full potential, the report said. Their ability to talk to one another as well as other smart parts of the transportation grid will help them reach that potential, but only by using technologies encompassed in the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) arena. 5G will be a critical factor in self-driving vehicles’ improvement, as the network can help guide robots and forklifts around factory floors with a lot of the same tech that autonomous passenger vehicles use.
“5G has the potential to enable advanced automation through zero-touch approaches,” the report said. “From forklifts to drones to warehouse shelves themselves, 5G will connect autonomous modes of transportation — all forms of transportation within the future factory could be connected to the 5G network.”
Click here to see The Manufacturing Institute’s full report, “How 5G is Transforming the Manufacturing Landscape.”