5G IoT is poised to transform manufacturing – but we need to fill the knowledge gap on both sides
Connectivity – in particular 5G – is a key enabler of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Smart manufacturing is now showing the fastest growth in connections of all verticals enabled by the IoT: a 30% rise between 2018 and 2025 is forecast, as manufacturers seek to automate production, streamline operations and improve productivity through connected technologies, with manufacturing set to underpin 4.3 billion wireless IoT connections by 2030. Increasing output and quality, while reducing costs associated with downtime and waste, are the clearest gains from connected manufacturing – and the role of advanced connectivity in manufacturing goes beyond the factory floor, where the bulk of use cases to date have naturally focussed.
Automated traceability for instance is a key opportunity which addresses multiple manufacturer pain points. Supply chain management can improve dramatically through traceability – enabling improved supply-demand relationships with suppliers through advanced analytics and forecasting and allowing manufacturers to minimise inventory to what is measurably necessary. This responsiveness and precision of automated traceability can also underpin improved quality control and regulatory processes, boosting customer satisfaction, compliance and increasing the speed with which new products can be brought to market.
Smart manufacturing is well established in some verticals, typically those focused on high-volume low-margin business models where cost-reduction is critical to economies of scale. The advances on offer in supply chain management however open up greater interest to enterprise producing high-margin products, for which visibility of assets in transit is paramount – here there is an opportunity for a unified 5G solution using elements of both Private and Public 5G networks, also known as Dedicated 5G Networks to achieve end-to-end connectivity for mobile assets.
Currently, connectivity in manufacturing is predominantly delivered using fixed cabling, which is expensive to install and constrained to stationary assets, making it difficult to scale. But as existing use cases mature, and novel ones emerge, the demand for 5G retrofitting will rise. Greater bandwidth and lower latency will soon be more widely required, bringing mobile edge computing to the fore; we will see rising interest in the enhanced cybersecurity afforded by network slicing, and its ability to separate critical functions; and the complete control over connected assets enabled by private networks will prove an increasingly attractive prospect across industries. There remains considerable work to be done, however, to prepare for the commercial opportunities to the mobile industry opened up by this broadening of demand over the next few years.
The mobile ecosystem must continue to adapt to the needs of the manufacturing sector and promote awareness of the benefits available to it through 5G IoT. The demands and requirements of Dedicated 5G Networks are entirely different to the traditional customer base of the mobile industry – new commercial models are required, so that performance reflects the centrality of the 5G network and IoT capabilities in these new processes, and their role as an enabler of change. In this and much else in the smart manufacturing space, collaboration across industries is needed to drive adoption; the manufacturing sector represents a wide array of industries, but all rely on the manufacturing process, bringing common purpose through shared interests.
The GSMA is leading the market here through formation of the 5G IoT for Manufacturing Forum, convening some of the world’s foremost manufacturers, operators, and ecosystem players to maximise the market opportunity created by 5G and industrial IoT. The Forum will provide a dedicated channel through which value drivers can be identified, common challenges can be discussed, and best practice shared. To find out more about how your organisation may be able to contribute, please visit www.gsma.com/iot/manufacturing or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thursday 23 Apr 2020 | 5G | Edge Computing | Manufacturing | Resources |
Through interviewing a number of major manufacturers regarding their insights into Industry 4.0, this report summarises and brings together knowledge of manufacturing and network technology to investigate how the manufacturing sector is approaching the...