How is 5G powering the Factories of the future
The new era of wireless networks has the potential to enhance key manufacturing processes, enable new use cases, and deliver impactful business outcomes including but not limiting to OPEX reduction, SAFETY improvement etc. With lightning-fast, ultra-low latency, edge computing, network slicing and more, 5G is playing an integral role in the fourth industrial revolution with ubiquitous and reliable connectivity.
5G will help the manufacturing sector accelerate its digital transformation journey by powering IIoT proliferation, predictive and real-time analytics, remote operation management, critical machine to machine communication, 360-degree immersive visualization with AR/VR, smart wearables & drones enhancing safety and security of its human and physical assets etc. The next generation of cellular networks will help address challenges faced by the enterprises, improve operational efficiency and enhance customer satisfaction.
The current scenario
While businesses have already begun their digitalization initiatives, the manufacturing sector currently faces an array of challenges:
- Downtimes due to inefficiencies in asset tracking, utilization, and management
- Quality issues that arise from manual inspections
- Irregularities in material availability due to poor supply chain management
- Disruption of operations due to unscheduled maintenance or breakdowns
- Skill gaps and the lack of availability of skilled workforce
- Workforce safety and environmental concerns
Building ‘smart’ factories-of-the-future
A fully connected, agile, and automated setup, that’s what 5G promises to manufacturing. Imagine a factory with end-to-end connectivity - machines and people talking to each other, operations monitored remotely but in real time, continuous data transfers happening enabling analytics-driven decision making, and all this in an environment that is fully private and secure. With 5G, this will soon be a reality.
Industrial IoT: To enable smart and intelligent manufacturing, data must be collected from all machines and devices. With 5G connectivity and edge computing, sensors can be installed across the shop floor to collate and analyze data. From quality checks, to predictive analytics and operation efficiency, massive IIoT powered by 5G will enable better visibility and productivity. From just about 50,000 today, Gartner forecasts that the 5G IoT eMBB and URLLC communication installations in the manufacturing sector will hit over 11 million by the end of 2029.
Digital supply chain: Availability of time-critical machinery plays an important role in the production line. Switching from the traditional model to digital supply chain will enable real-time inventory management and tracking of materials within the premises, ensuring quick response times.
Operational transformation: Beyond the regular IT transformation that is an ongoing process, 5G-powered OT transformation will help this sector benefit enormously. Digitalization of manufacturing processes will increase efficiency and productivity while reducing defects and downtimes.
- Automated, AI powered quality checks and inspections to reduce rejects and enable early fault detection
- Real-time monitoring of assets and machinery to monitor health and performance, reducing the chances of failures or unscheduled maintenance
- Leveraging AR/VR based expert assistance for maintenance to significantly reduce MTTR
Digital twin: A concept that is seeing great traction lately, digital twin is a virtual or digital representation of physical systems to monitor, track, and analyze processes in real-time to gather insights that enable learning, reasoning, and improved decision making. It also helps increase productivity and helps save millions that are normally lost due to machine downtimes.
Factory safety: With 5G private networks, all critical data is stored within the factory, and all data transfers happen on premise. Additionally, 5G connectivity will enhance safety on ground by powering drones and CCTV cameras for 24/7 surveillance. With wearables, workforce health and movements can also be monitored in real-time.
The future of manufacturing
What 5G is poised to do, in short, is change the way this sector operates in the coming days! From process optimization to quality improvements or safety, 5G connectivity will enable transformation on all fronts and has the potential to add value worth billions. To help the manufacturing industry leverage 5G technology, Tech Mahindra has crafted a solution suite that addresses industry-specific challenges. With benefits like 30% drop in inspection time and 10% improvement in production efficiency, we are helping enterprises overcome challenges and build future-ready business models.
Product Manager, IoT Solutions for Industrial Enterprises, Tech Mahindra
Deb is a techno-functional professional with more than twelve years of experience in manufacturing and energy utility domain and seasoned at offering technology solutions that drive sustainable growth for customers. Currently, he is a member of Tech Mahindra’s 5G for Enterprise program where he drives customers’ 5G adoption and transformation strategies.