5G offers the low latency, high reliability, and high bandwidth demanded by manufacturing processes. Though not yet ready to fully orchestrate production manufacturing processes, it is rapidly evolving. A very insightful event by 5G Manufacturing Forum! Thank you to all the organizers of this event. (https://www.5gmanufacturingforum.com/)

Here are a few key takeaways –

Key use-cases for 5G in manufacturing

  • Predictive Maintenance: Simply put, catch errors before they lead to downtime and loss.
  • AR and VR: Reduce the cost and duration of training new staff and conduct remote maintenance. 
  • Asset tracking: Reduce loss due to idling or lost assets. 
  • Security and operation optimizations: AI-based closed-loop and low-delay video surveillance.
  • Autonomous Mobile Robots: A low-latency, high-bandwidth, and reliable wide area coverage network promise new use cases and faster deployments of AGV and AMRs.

Key Challenges for 5G in manufacturing

  • Network planning and channel modeling are unique for each factory as these are based on the factory dimensions, percentage of metal barriers, and interference patterns. So a 5G Private network deployment for each factory needs to be individually planned.
  • In certain situations, AMRs, AGVs, AR/VR, or OTA processes demand burst network traffic and potentially hog the entire network. This poses issues to critical and real-time manufacturing processes. So careful and dynamic QoS planning is necessary for the smooth operation of the 5G network.
  • Incomplete OT and IT integrations could delay the RoI of 5G Private network deployments.
  • Manageability, lifecycle, remote access, and security compliance in hybrid and cloud-based deployments of 5G Private networks are in nascent stages and could lead to longer deployment cycles.

Key Drivers for 5G Private network adoption

  • The manufacturing industry’s contribution to GDP is significant in most countries. So most governments are keen on offering policy-level impetus toward enabling the speedy adoption of 5G private networks.  
  • Low-cost or free spectrum license for setting up 5G Private network and aggressive investments from Telecoms, and OEMs, is luring factories to consider adopting 5G private network for their operations.
  • Increasing energy and raw-material costs, and uncertain markets are pushing manufacturers to adopt scalable automation and data-driven decision-making. This means they would need to scale up (or down) their business based on markets and a 5G network is seen as an enabler of rapid scaling. 

My Take

The entire “5G in manufacturing” debate and whether it makes sense to replace one technology with another, what use-cases will deliver RoI etc., sound very similar to the “Cord-Cutting” debate in Television and Broadcasting Industry 10 years back. Today, OTT viewership and consumption have surpassed traditional-TV viewing. 

So it is just a matter of time before 5G will enable ‘cord-cutting’ in the manufacturing world.


You can find and comment on the original post over Linkedin here – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5g-private-networks-manufacturing-ameet-kalagi/