Accelerating Smart Manufacturing with Private 5G Networks

Digital transformation is driving manufacturer’s adoption of new and flexible networking solutions. The largest manufacturing organizations are more likely to acquire their own spectrum and deploy dedicated private networks where they can control security and architecture. However, in a recent survey, nearly 50% of manufacturers say they are open to a hybrid deployment that includes a virtual instance or network slice of a service provider’s 5G network. Enterprises indicate that they may use different models for different use cases.

In new analyst research released by Accedian on the future of 5G in manufacturing, conducted in partnership with Analysys Mason, a leading management consultancy focused on telecoms, media and technology (TMT), the research found that while 76% of manufacturers plan to use private 5G locally by 2024, key barriers to adoption include management complexity, difficulty of deployment and high costs.

Manufacturing holds extreme promise in being transformed through 5G network adoption. As a sector largely reliant on the quality of connections between technologies and machines, 5G can expedite processes, reduce latency, enable automation and the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented reality (AR). Most manufacturers agree that high reliability (82%), security (78%) and support for low-latency applications (75%) make a 5G private network an attractive choice.

“5G is set to transform industries, and no sector is more ripe for this than manufacturing,” says Sergio Bea, VP of Global Enterprise and Channels, Accedian. “Our research with Analysys Mason clearly shows the appetite for adoption among manufacturers is there, but network performance monitoring and management remain barriers to entry. With the right network monitoring tools, IT teams at factories can be sure they’ll have both the visibility and security they need to make 5G adoption a success.”

More than 200 respondents from GermanyJapan, United Kingdom, and the United States across six verticals provided insights into private 5G network adoption.

Key highlights from the research include:

– The most likely types of 5G deployments are: hybrid models (45%) and network slice (35%); while 18% of manufacturing respondents prefer fully private on-prem networks.

– Security (63%) is the biggest factor influencing the choice of 5G deployment model, followed by network performance (49%), speed/simplicity of deployment (49%), application performance (45%) and data privacy (43%).

– In terms of barriers to adoption, respondents considering a hybrid network model are most concerned about management complexity (43%).

– Most agree that important metrics to monitor are application performance KPIs (61%), closely followed by network performance KPIs (59%) and security KPIs (55%).

There is a complex balance of risks and deployment choices that manufacturers will need to make as they move forward with 5G.

“Our research shows there is appetite for 5G in the manufacturing industry, which means there’s also immense opportunity for service providers to uplevel their relationships with factories, as well,” says Michele Mackenzie, Principal Analyst, IoT and private networks, Analysys Mason. “CSPs need to capitalize on this momentum to become more than just vendors, but strategic partners to manufacturing organizations looking to navigate the future of the sector.”

Manufacturing 5G Use Cases

5G offers high capacity, wireless ubiquity and flexibility combined with low-latency performance. It is the natural choice to “cut the cables”, which makes it easier to adapt the physical locations of operations, avoid unreliable WiFi and get rid of the many different IoT connectivity standards used today, such as LoRa. Industrial Internet of Things, also known as IIoT, is a major pillar of Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, where factories are increasingly automated, benefiting from flexible connectivity and the ability to connect anything from anywhere easily. In Western Europe, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive sector have been at the forefront of private network adoption. “Companies such as BMW, Ford and Mercedes Benz have deployed private networks for their factories, often based on 5G. By 2026, Analysys Mason expects emerging Asia–Pacific (primarily China) to account for the largest share of private LTE/5G networks in the manufacturing sector”

To download the complete research click here.