5G is becoming more and more important to manufacturers. Source: Shutterstock

5G is becoming more and more important to manufacturers. Source: Shutterstock

How 5G will make manufacturing operations smarter in 2020

DIGITIZATION is the answer to many of today’s key challenges faced by manufacturers. It’s what helps them meet customer expectations and stay ahead of the competition.

However, many of tomorrow’s challenges – although quite simple on the surface, are difficult to crack since the technology required isn’t here as yet – or is it?

5G, the up and coming wireless (connectivity) standard, is a part of the solution and the missing key.

It’s what can effectively help manufacturers increase productivity, efficiency, and flexibility and enable greater personalization of products and services. In fact, it can make quite an impact according to experts.

And although the infrastructure for 5G is something that is only now being rolled out and full service is expected only in mid-2019 to early-2020, it’s something manufacturers should give serious thought to. Now.

Better connecting with robots through 5G

One avenue where 5G can make a significant impact on manufacturers is influencing where they place their bets in terms of process automation and robotics.

Those who don’t pay attention to the capabilities and enablements that 5G brings will fail to plan how their systems are upgraded and turbocharged to leverage the power of the new-age network.

According to a recent report on the 5G business potential, critical control of production line robotics includes tethered or untethered robots that are controlled, monitored, and can be reconfigured remotely.

This technology could be used in factory floor production, reconfiguration and layout changes, real-time analysis and even to steer a robot’s movement from a remote location.

5G plays a major role in connecting production line robotics by providing high-performance mobile services such as:

  • Connectivity for robotics, removing the need for fiber tethering
  • Quick reactions to discrepancies, helping to avoid damaging expensive components
  • Live remote monitoring of video streams from robotics
  • Low latency-enabled remote control applications

Using 5G in such a scenario can help manufacturers save 15 to 20 percent in operating expenses.

It can also help production operations become more flexible, efficient, safer and cheaper to maintain.

5G has more benefits for manufacturing operations

5G networks can support augmented reality (AR) use cases such as the simulation of factory processes and providing training to workers.

AR can also be used to help workers quickly learn how maintenance, construction, and repair of equipment in the factory should be carried out.

5G can also support connected operational intelligence by combining, analyzing and delivering insights from disparate and diverse silos of assets, operators, and enterprise systems.

Doing so will provide unified real-time visibility of KPIs for increased operational performance and improved decision making.

On the field, 5G can help companies gather and monitor data in real-time, creating exciting opportunities for manufacturers. A robust 5G network can also help create intelligent video surveillance that can be combined with AI-based video recognition algorithms to detect threats.

Finally, among the myriad other uses, 5G can also exponentially improve the supply chain. It can help identify and track goods in end-to-end logistics functions helping locate and monitor key inventory.

5G in the supply chain also helps optimize logistics, maintain inventory levels, prevent quality issues and detect theft.

According to the recent report, the use of 5G technology in smart factories offers extensive benefits to manufacturing processes.

Connected cameras and sensing devices can, for example, provide feedback to control centers enabling skilled staff to control and steer manufacturing remotely, resulting in increased safety, productivity, and flexibility.

5G can also support predictive maintenance for robots, which leverages advanced analytics solutions to analyze and predict faults and potential threats before they occur.