5G and Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is coming—the fully-automated end of the digital transformation rainbow. Public 5G networks are built from the outside in, which means they cannot guarantee reliable coverage in all corners of all rooms. However, private 5G networks can. With its capacity for massive machine-to-machine communication and extremely low latency, large enterprises with their own private 5G wireless networks can reach new heights in operational efficiency.

Smartphones brought us a serious boost in efficiency, but connections at the time were terrible until 4G emerged to save the day. Now, there are already over six billion smartphones, and another 1.5 billion will enter global circulation by 2026. While 4G revolutionized smartphones, it was never designed to reliably support the high precision, real-time robotics, and massive machine-to-machine communication industries need to automate. Industry 4.0 needs a whole new reality.

5G comes with vast bandwidth, high data rates, ultra-low latency, high security, reliability, and scalability to accommodate more devices. Connecting devices to the internet of things facilitates automation, which can improve efficiency for all industries at all stages of production. In 2017, research projected that IoT would jump from 27 billion connected devices to 125 billion by 2030. 4G was never meant to handle that—and with private 5G networks, it doesn’t have to.

With concerns around cybersecurity, businesses may want more control over all their data, housing it inside their own firewalls rather than on a public network or using a shared Wi-Fi spectrum. With private wireless networks, no one can even use your network without your explicit approval. A company can decide which applications they need to run and where on the premises they need reliable coverage. By controlling your own network, you control its performance.

The global Industry 4.0 market is projected to reach USD 260.71 billion by 2026, with a 16.3% CAGR from 2019 to 2026. The manufacturing leaders who are making these investments by adopting new technology have high expectations. In a second post-Covid-19 survey, US and European manufacturers noted the adoption of new technologies leading them to a lift of 50% or more in customer satisfaction, internal confidence, competitive advantage and profit margins.

To realize these gains, 81% of respondents expected to adopt 5G within two years, in order to leverage these technologies in priority order: analytics, artificial intelligence, autonomous collaborative robotics, machine equipment diagnostics, cloud computing/cloud-native applications, cloud-to-edge PaaS, industrial automation, machine learning, digital twins, edge computing. These technologies need an intelligent edge to be effective.

By 2023, more than 50% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed at the edge. Industry 4.0 and 5G are key drivers in this statistic. Part of the reason for this shift is that it is much less expensive to process data nearer to the source, since that avoids backhaul transport costs, but a key part of the value arises because the power of data often lies in or around the moment it is created, computed or sensed.

As nationwide 5G connectivity continues to be built out, an entirely new level of speed, efficiency, and performance will help unlock new IoT use cases. 5G will be needed for higher data rate transmissions and ultra-low latency needs. In fact, the future of 5G, edge computing, and IoT together are key enablers for Industry 4.0. The IIoT market, for instance, is forecasted to grow from $68.8 billion in 2019 to $98.2 billion by 2024.

Without 5G, there will be significant network gaps to enabling Industry 4.0—not only in providing connectivity for the billions of IoT devices, but also in transferring and processing the huge volumes of data that will be generated. Different IoT systems will have different network requirements. Some devices will demand reliability where low latency will be critical, while other cases will see networks having to cope with a much higher density of connected devices than we’ve previously seen.

Future 5G networks could help enable a number of IoT and IIoT use cases and benefits in the manufacturing industry. With IoT/IIoT, manufacturers could connect production equipment and other machines, tools, and assets in factories and warehouses, providing managers and engineers with more visibility into production operations and any issues that might arise.

In order to realize the full promise of Industry 4.0, technology leaders will need to understand the key challenges IoT will bring and how the future of 5G can address them.

Glow’s role

Here at Glow, we provide a solid foundation for Industry 4.0, by helping with setting up the 5G infrastructure that serves as the backbone for this technology. We focus heavily on providing end-to-end services, to build 5G networks nationwide. Enterprises must embrace 5G but make sure they have the requisite visibility to properly leverage this ecosystem for each enterprise’s needs.

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