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How 5G Will Empower Smart Manufacturing

4 min read

The Industrial Revolution began centuries ago. It escalated the automated manufacturing industry, providing mass-produced goods to the market. Ever since then there have been several innovations in the IT industry. And now the arrival of 5G technology is about to bring the biggest transformation experienced by the industry ever. 5G networks in IoT applications will allow manufacturers and telecom operators to build smarter factories. And they will be able to take full advantage of technologies like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. 5G technologies will give important network features for manufacturing. 


Manufacturers rely on fixed-line networks for the following requirements:

  • Low latency and high reliability for supporting important applications
  • High bandwidth and connection density for the security of overall connectivity


  • More flexibility with wireless factories- With 5G, manufacturers can power their whole facility, on and off-premises, absolutely with one network for near-wireless operations and speedy adoption of new technologies. Wireless machines can also roam more freely, strengthening flexibility and productivity. And with the low latency provided by 5G, around 10 milliseconds and eventually 1 millisecond compared with 20 to 30 milliseconds with 4G, they can be monitored in real-time by the human in the loop. Also, the adoption of 5G for manufacturing will move function normally located inside the robot to a central computer via the distributed cloud or edge computing. This reduces cabling costs and increases flexibility as machinery can be reprogrammed and moved around easier; manufacturing needs to be adaptable to cater to the increasing demand for more personalised products.


  • Increased productivity- For manufacturers, productivity gains equal to cost-savings. The 5G network allows for up to one million sensors per square kilometre, as well as ultra-low latency, which can provide operators with real or near-time data from sensor-equipped devices to improve productivity. The real-time monitoring provided by 5G’s low latency enables the company to boost monitoring of the manufacturing process to avoid errors; within milliseconds operators know when they need to change machine parameters or risk having to reconfigure the part. 


  • Real-time predictive maintenance- Maintenance is a major cost for manufacturers, as broken machines abruptly stop production costing anything from thousands to millions of rupees. 5G powered predictive maintenance, however, can prevent failures before they happen. Predictive maintenance is possible now, but the ultra-low latency provided by 5G increases the risk of catching breakdowns before they occur. Latency is truly important here because with an overheating machine, a mere few seconds later, hundreds of thousands of rupees worth of damage could be done. 


  • Tailored connectivity- Managing connectivity is another outlay and inevitably increases security considerations, especially for critical operations. To slice the 5G network into multiple virtual networks, speed, capacity, coverage, and encryption can be tailored to a specific need of different machines and operations, can improve security and keep costs down. It provides reliable communications with guaranteed quality of service, along with cloud-based computation that is under the operator’s absolute control. Though dedicated networks already exist, the 5G network is more easily segmented, so factories could even provision additional network slices, as and when needed, to support changes in the volume of production.


5G-enabled manufacturing will be built on a fully connected experience. 5G will help to bring major advancements, such as vast device connectivity and innovative technology experiences, near real-time automation and network flexibility. It will lead to significant benefits like better performance, operations and improved security.

5G for industrial automation will allow manufacturers to drive more functionality. High reliability and low latency will facilitate the equipment to communicate with back-end systems wirelessly. This will simplify the process of addressing time-critical operational issues. Fast production-line operations will combine with networked intelligence giving birth to new capabilities like advanced visual recognition based on deep learning neural networks in the cloud.

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