Impact of 5G in Industry 4.0

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless communications technology and ushers in an exciting phase in mobile telecommunications. This is light years ahead of the first generation analog cellular technology devices launched first in Japan in 1979. The new generation brings faster data transmission, reduced latency and delivers the ability to connect multiple devices simultaneously. It’s no wonder that 5G has captured the imagination of everyone because of what it promises to deliver and the experience that awaits both personal and commercial users. With the wave of digitalization sweeping all kinds of industries, the impact of 5G will be there for all to see; pretty soon!

Tell me about Industry 4.0!

For the uninitiated, Industry 4.0 refers to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This was coined in Germany and it encompasses the suite of technologies that will transform today’s factories into smart factories. Immersive technologies such as VR, AR and MR, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, IIoT, robotics, drones, 3D printing etc. are some of the key technologies that will ensure among other things greater connectivity across devices, machines, deliver insight and intelligence for the more efficient and profitable manufacturing enterprises of the future.

5G and Industry 4.0

We live in a connected world and our work and personal lives are getting more and more integrated with the unseen network around us. Not only has our dependence increased on the “network”, it has also gradually caused an increasing dependency on the devices and machinery that we use, as they can connect, communicate with each other making them smarter in serving human needs and desires.

The increased data transmission speeds of 5G allows us to reliably communicate across greater distances in a secure manner. This allows swift communication, real-time monitoring, analysis and interventions that improve plant performance, reduce outages, improve equipment reliability and help reduce operating costs. Such a transformation will deliver a crucial competitive advantage and leads to sustainable operational excellence.

Since the system enables a greater number of devices to be connected, the data generated from sensors enable more analysis and insight that could be applied to improve operations and deliver critical design improvements and newer products to consumers. This next generation network delivers lower latency which reduces the “time-lag” and allows for example, delivering a more realistic experience of virtual reality (VR) solutions which can be hosted on the cloud. This is a direct benefit of 5G’s higher bandwidth and extremely low latency.

Cloud computing will allow more effective deployment of mobile devices and opens up a host of possibilities that need not rely on expensive and high powered computing infrastructure at the user’s location. This reduces cost and time to implement solutions, newer services and offer unique experiences. 5G’s fast response is particularly advantageous for navigation with autonomous vehicles such as self-driving cars. Another exciting opportunity is with remote surgery as the low latency enables accurate surgery from a top surgeon who is halfway across the globe. Sounds exciting, right?

These spectacular advances also encourage industry experts to change or discard existing manufacturing and business models intensifying the race for market leadership.  Intelligent machines for example, could communicate through the supply chain to deliver the necessary components, just in time after performing the necessary verifications that humans would typically do. Digital Twins which are intelligent and immersive and drive performance improvements on its physical twin.  Augmented Reality (AR) solutions would help provide remote assistance to effectively support maintenance instead of waiting for their presence at site.

It is well known that better communication and transparency foster greater innovation and growth. Similarly, the advent of 5G promises endless possibilities for users to take advantage of its capabilities and helping with Industry 4.0 technologies adoption. Engaging Industry 4.0 experts will help leaders understand the synergies between 5G and Industry 4.0 technologies. Governments across the world have begun testing 5G technologies. Now is the time for industry leaders to seize the initiative with 5G and maximize the benefits of Industry 4.0.

This post is authored by Dr. CSS Bharathy, Founder, Fusion VR, India. He is a Certified Industry 4.0 Expert with nearly three decades of experience in this industry. He has authored many publications and addressed key industry conferences.

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