It is the age of extreme uncertainty caused by a volatile market and shorter business life cycles. Manufacturing companies globally are under stress to reduce go-to-market times with highly competitive pricing and better quality products. As margins keep shrinking and components keep getting more diverse and complex to produce, the cost of operations keeps rising.
Staying competitive in such an economy, manufacturers need many efficiency gains and profitable moves that can only happen with process innovations. One major trend here is the continued automation of robots and warehouse processes. 5G technology and IoT are key to enhance productivity and profitability in manufacturing.
The Age of 5G, AI and IoT
With 5G networks, manufacturers can build smart factories and leverage technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and the Internet of Things (IoT). Operators can use 5G combined with other tech to enable new revenue streams. Sectors like utility, energy, and manufacturing present some of the most promising opportunities for revenue generation using 5G. In fact, a study by Ericsson The 5G Business Potential shows that the addressable market in 2026 will be USD 619 billion.
Here are a few ways in which 5G will revolutionize manufacturing:
1. The creation of the smart factory
Network connected machines are obviously smarter than the conventional ones. Manufacturers have since long begun using Ethernet and Wi-Fi and subsequently 4G to connect their factory devices.
However, 5G changes the game completely. Factories can power their entire facility, both on and off-premises with a single network for almost wireless operations and faster adoption of new technologies.
These kinds of factories can produce more because robots will be able to work 24/7. Now think of this in the context of low volume manufacturing. This will optimize the supply chain for low volumes and reduce the lead times significantly even shorter than days or weeks as it currently is.
Since the machines are wireless they can move about more freely, increasing flexibility and efficiency. 5G for manufacturing will centralize the functions to a central server via the cloud or edge computing. This will reduce the networking costs considerably and improve flexibility as making a change will be as simple as reprogramming.
However, if a manufacturer is facing a cash crunch in the view of the current scenario, then there are ways to get cash loan online too.
2. Increased productivity
For manufacturers, any productivity benefits equal to cost savings. Upgraded networks will dramatically impact industrial operations. With higher speed and lower latency, processes like low volume manufacturing will become faster, cheaper, and more productive.
The ability to track and monitor the equipment centrally empowers factories with unparalleled manufacturing agility without compromising on the overall output or quality.
Further, using real-time insights, manufacturers can gauge machine wear and tear proactively. This leads to better troubleshooting in time and preventive maintenance, cutting down on the billions of dollars that are spent on unplanned repair costs. Operators know within milliseconds if they need to change the equipment’s parameters or if there is trouble ahead.
Moreover, using 5g’s faster networks, companies reduce the overall production costs all the while improving product quality. This means no faulty products or product recalls and higher customer satisfaction.
3. Predictive maintenance
Maintenance is one of the most significant costs for manufacturers. Broken machines bring everything to a halt and the cost of downtime and repairs is very expensive.
To mitigate this, experts from the Worcestershire 5G Consortium, a UK hub that tests 5G use cases worked with Worcester Bosch. They could increase factory productivity by 1 percent using thousands of sensors in the machines for health monitoring. This allowed them to prevent breakdowns and avoid unplanned downtime.
The ultra-low latency that 5G provides raises the risk of catching breakdowns much before they occur.
4. Artificial Intelligence to improve the quality
As the popularity of 5G and AI grows, experts predict that these technologies will revolutionize the industry.
Since the ever-shortening release cycles make it very challenging for factories to keep up with the demand for complicated products and parts while maintaining quality and compliance guidelines.
Even now when products are being manufactured at record speeds, customers have increasingly high expectations for high-quality and functional products. Manufacturing companies must work with minimum defects and ensure the elimination of product recall. And here’s where AI comes to the rescue.
As mentioned earlier, predictive maintenance is an important facet leading to efficiency gains, AI plays an important role in improving quality control in factories. AI can strengthen the existing human resources and infrastructure to find mistakes that are the weak link in the product chain and quality.
For instance, instead of finding flaws late into the production cycle, AI can detect and warn of these flows at nearly 5 percent of the progress. The accuracy rate of this detection is impeccable. Using AI to catch product flaws faster, often at the design stage can eliminate rework costs and save a considerable amount in energy.
This approach needs 5G-enabled access to bigger quantities of real-time, quality data to gain maximum efficiency.
5. Speed with safety
Speaking purely from a speed perspective, 5G is 100 times faster than 4G. This has a direct impact on latency. Where it used to take 20 milliseconds in existing 4G networks to send information from one point to another, with 5G we are talking 1-5 milliseconds. This means systems are connected in real-time and the reaction time gets shorter. Reduced latency opens up a world of possibilities and factories can now be innovative without the fear of being slowed down.
Low latency and higher reliability are also the core requirements for critical jobs. With 5G’s low latency system, crucial manufacturing processes like industrial control and automation systems, planning and design systems, and field devices will benefit immensely.
While speed normally translates into risks, such is not the case with 5G where you have higher precision, accuracy, and lower incidences of accidents and injuries.
The 5G-enabled smart factory is not a thing of the future. 5G is already here with its promise of great device connectivity, innovation, increased productivity and efficiency, low latency, and high safety. Aided by AI and predictive maintenance, IoT, and many such technological advancements, 5G is all set to be the game-changer in the fourth industrial revolution, especially for low volume manufacturing.