5G is much more than a network - it’s a platform for innovation with the ability to provide global scale and enable manufacturing use cases that we haven’t even dreamed of yet.
5G can take traditional ways of working and make them more flexible. If you look at previous generations of cellular technology, 5G is the first that has been made for machines. 3G and 4G were made for people and could basically do one thing – smartphones.
With 5G we have a lot of different flavours; you can do everything from simple sensors, vision systems, low latency, remote control, connected workers, mobility – and all with the same infrastructure.
5G will be able to simplify manufacturing infrastructures. If you look at a typical factory today there is a huge number of differing networks, whether that be Sigma, Bluetooth, LoRa and cable or WiFi networks. When handling all those networks total cost of ownership is very high. We can simplify that by having one infrastructure. In addition, 5G is a licenced technology, which means it’s more reliable.
Lean manufacturing is about being data driven and making decisions based on facts. 5G becomes the layer that can collect data, analyse it and then return it so that manufacturers can act in a very reliable way, adding even more data into the lean manufacturing concept. Right now, we see many islands of information in the factory; we can link those together.
The flexibility to be able to have a one-piece flow, but using the same level of resources of full volume production, will be the biggest key to sustainability. Right now, when we produce stock, there’s a lot of waste and we produce elements that we don’t actually need. If we can have the flexibility to be as fast as we are today with volume production, but with added customisation, we’ll know that every product produced will have an end customer. The next step for 5G is to go beyond local and combine that with the global connectivity that exists. We see automotive manufacturers already doing that, where 5G is providing a digital thread, carrying information throughout the whole lifecycle of a product.
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