Preparing Industry for its 4th and most promising act, will set the stage for major transformation, where more than just manufacturers will benefit. The challenges of global sustainability continue to accelerate. As our population increases and more nations become developed, finding and extracting the raw materials, processing, making and delivering the products and services we desire is becoming increasingly challenging. At the same time we have a responsibility of ensuring ethical practices and the safety of those who work in these environments.
While technology fuels innovation and creates connectivity for the masses, we have yet to see how wireless communications will revolutionize big industries such as manufacturing.
It’s a challenge that has fallen to previous generations of cellular communications and many other wireless technologies, and while there have been ‘pockets of success’, it clearly has not created the revolution that we need to meet the demands of the future.
The Internet of Things is playing an increasingly important role in identifying how we manage our assets and create an operating picture for all types of industries. Some businesses have already been able to leverage powerful insight to their advantage, but the sheer scale and diversity in types of use cases needed by different industries, coupled with the stringent level of operational requirements, mean that existing technologies aren’t sufficient to meet the promise of the 4th industrial revolution.
The opportunity to address new business models and adapt to varying demands for products and services is key to future success.
Reducing installation and maintenance costs, providing greater flexibility in how and where expensive assets like robots are integrated alongside existing older equipment and ensuring all machines are working optimally is a big challenge.
We need a technology that lets our machines connect at massive scale, be controlled with near zero delay and have much higher reliability. We need greater flexibility and the ability to process large amounts of data in the shortest time possible so that actions can be derived and executed much faster.
The next challenger is stepping up and clearly has many advantages over it’s previous generations. 5G is seen as the most versatile of technologies, bringing many tools to tackle industries toughest problems.
Ultra low latency is achieved by changing the transmission time interval at the physical layer of the radio interface. Reliability can be increased through techniques like cooperative multipoint, where parallel transmission of data through multiple base stations is used, plus a new capability called network slicing, In this case, multiple virtual networks are established and can be configured with precise attributes such as network delay, and maximum throughput to create a tightly controlled layer of connectivity that can operated and managed locally.
Just consider the ability to increase safety, especially as we see the increasing use of robots working alongside human operators
A recent joint research project with Bosch corporation has shown how the ultra-low latency and high reliability of 5G is used to instantly stop machinery from operating when an alarm is triggered.
This proof of concept system was built using existing industrial products that are used in factories today, where the previously wired control panel is now connected wirelessly over 5G to a centralized sensor panel that in turn is connected to one or more machines. When a human operator observes a hazard or operating anomaly, they can trigger a switch to stop operations. The latency requirement is very strict and recent testing shows that 5G can reliably support <2ms, well within operating guidelines.
This is just one example of how 5G can be applied to solve some of the toughest challenges in an industrial environment and a call for everyone to change the way we think about wireless. It’s time to think beyond 5G being the next technology used by billions of smartphone wielding people to imagining networks that can control the machines we build, leading to levels of automation that we would never have previously thought possible.
The stage for the 4th industrial revolution is set and 5G is the leading cast member. A well known story with a new actor, poised to give a life changing performance that nobody will want to miss.
Explore the world of 5G and get a glimpse of what’s possible for industry.
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