The manufacturing industry is as old as the industrial revolution which is more than 2 centuries old. The revolution which ushered modern living and consumerism in societies across the globe has been touched by the wave of technology in a big way. Similarly, the manufacturing industry is about to experience one more revolution – Industry 4.0.
The main catalysts of Industry 4.0 are none other than 5G &IoT. The adoption of technology is looking more positive with the advent of 5G services which will be enabling smoother and faster service in this sector when combined with AI &ML, Robotic, Cloud to name a few.
The manufacturing industry is going through a period of rapid digital transformation and is increasingly using data and technology to improve efficiencies within the plant, enhance productivity, and enable new business models, in an environment where external pressures are mounting. Increased global competition is putting pressure on prices, consumer demands are changing more quickly than ever before, and there are significant skills shortages in the industry.
The digitalization of the manufacturing industry has made the era of Industry 1.0 not just obsolete but an intriguing factor. If we talk about the main enabler 5G, we have to look back at 1G, 2G, 3G & 4G where 1G was serving voice, 2G added texting and 3G added data services. From there on the services have just gone faster with more data load taking capacity.
With 5G, stationary panel, to manage the machines, on the existing machines will become obsolete and will reduce the number of technicians and cost to manage these machines. This load taking capacity of 5G will enable more and more sensors to be installed and to monitor the whole manufacturing process. Thus, capturing data at every single point which will not just help in the manufacturing of products with highest efficiency standards but also will impact on the other factors like wastage, over-production, environment friendliness, power consumption, maintenance to name a few. Higher 5G speeds will bring remote operation using AR and VR. Loads of IoT data, now transferred fast through 5G, can be analysed and predictive analytics can be achieved. AR would further add value and technicians can use data glasses connected via 5G to display real-time status information, enabling them to monitor and service machinery in an optimal manner.
In the manufacturing industry, the use case scenarios of 5G and IoT devices are enormous. If we just look at textile manufacturing units the machines are to become more and more automated with a very short response time. E.g. A textile mill that is producing 100mts of cloth in 5 seconds will not need to have a different operating station which needs to be manned throughout the manufacturing process. With 5G and an army of IoT devices, only a single operator station will be managing the whole process where manual checks will be taken over by sensors. So any decision taken during operations can be implemented within a second.
So, in future, we are looking at more IoT device connectivity with more data capture with low latency which can be operationally translated into advanced predictive maintenance of the machines, precision monitoring & control and AR/VR support for maintenance. The logistics will again be an important aspect where 5G will fuel the better management of Industry 4.0. To achieve full process control manufacturing plants can opt for private 5G networks where Speed and accuracy of 5G will also enable integrated ecosystem designed to optimize not just manufacturing, but also distribution and the product-consumption lifecycle.
Though the availability of 5G will still be a challenge and remote area connectivity will pose challenges the industry needs to prepare itself from today to reap the benefits tomorrow. Small integrations and future-ready machines and processes are needed to be built or installed so that when the time comes the manufactures should be able to make the transition seamlessly.
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