Network upgrades can underpin the efforts of manufacturers to automate quality assurance (QA) processes, deploy Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) inside the facility, and upskill employees using Augmented Reality.
Lower latency and support for Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) afforded by a 5G network can further enable wireless process automation for robotics use cases and increase bandwidth support for data-heavy applications, such as video analytics.
ABI Research predicts that in 2030, manufacturing and industrial firms globally will have more than 49 million 5G connections inside their facilities. This will generate US$2.4 billion in global connections revenue for suppliers.
Michael Larner, industrial and manufacturing research director at ABI Research, says progressive advancements to network performance (from Wi-Fi to Long Term Evolution (LTE), and from LTE to 5G) can underpin improvements to customers’ operations.
“But to maximise the benefits to their operations, customers will need to invest in ancillary technologies, such as edge networking, data management, and data analytics, to accelerate data collection and create a digital thread,” he added.
However, a lack of 5G industrial devices has stalled manufacturers’ interest in 5G private wireless. In turn, the lack of enthusiasm has discouraged hardware suppliers from creating the necessary devices.
As a result of the state of flux, equipment vendors, such as Nokia, have launched converged devices supporting Wi-Fi, LTE, and 5G connectivity.
Suppliers need to showcase the attributes of a 5G network and prove how a 5G network can upgrade operations.
“The lack of 5G devices is a genuine drag on adoption, but suppliers (telcos such as Nokia, Ericsson, NTT), Information Technology (IT) providers (HPE, DXC, Dell Technologies), Operational Technology (OT) specialists (Bosch, Siemens, Honeywell) and System Integrators (SIs) such as Accenture and Deloitte) should be working with prospective customers to educate them today about 5G’s potential,” Larner cautioned.