The Importance of 5G Technology In Smart Manufacturing
A recent press release from Market and Markets address the critical role of 5G technology in smart manufacturing:
Smart manufacturing is a concept that includes many advanced equipment and technologies, such as robots, AI, machine vision, AGV, and sensors. These advanced equipment and technologies, if implemented in a factory, make it a smart factory. However, for these technologies to work, robust network connectivity is required. This is where 5G comes into the picture.
When a vehicle is manufactured, robots, machine vision, sensors, and other equipment work together to complete the vehicle’s assembly process. This is only possible if all these equipment communicate over the 5G network for the smooth assembly operation. Thus, 5G is the most critical technology in the future manufacturing ecosystem. It is expected to help companies complete complex modern manufacturing processes efficiently.
It has been estimated that by 2025, 20% of global smartphones will be equipped with 5G connection. As per this data, in the coming years, manufacturing companies will also implement 5G technology on their shop floors. By 2030, more than 50% of the major manufacturers will have 5G implemented on their shop floors. As mentioned earlier, many technologies come under a smart manufacturing ecosystem and require 5G technology to exhibit efficient results. Among these, Digital Twin is one of the most important technologies in the market that will be implemented and require robust connection using 5G technology.
The digital twin is expected to play a vital role in the manufacturing ecosystem in the coming future as it will use all technologies mentioned in the figure above and deliver the required results. But this will only be possible if these technologies provide data to digital twin systems in real time, which can be achieved with the help of 5G technology. It provides data with low latency, high data capacity, speed, and reliability. The major advantage of 5G is low latency, which can solve many challenges related to the manufacturing ecosystem. For example, the temperature is a critical parameter in a highly complex manufacturing environment and should be controlled precisely. Any fluctuation in temperature can lead to several issues. Thus, it has to be maintained and controlled in real time. Earlier, this was impossible as data required for decision-making was unavailable in real time. Thus, the production process was inefficient or time-consuming. However, with the help of 5G and digital twin technologies, manufacturing companies can now fill the gap created by the unknown problems in the manufacturing facility, which will ultimately increase their overall efficiency and profitability.
To function appropriately, digital twin requires considerable data from the technologies mentioned above. This is only possible by 5G technology, which can speed up data transmission from a significant distance. Another advantage associated with the use of 5G and digital twins is that the future factories will be completely wireless, where every machine will be connected wirelessly. This will make a simple factory a connected and advanced manufacturing facility. 5G technology will help enable wireless connectivity, which will help connect various sensors and machines in a highly complex manufacturing environment. So, whether that machine is within factory space or located remotely in another production site (in a different country), all that machines will be completely connected.
However, looking at the major benefits of 5G, it does not allow every manufacturer to implement 5G technology on their shop floors. This is because it requires various skills, funding, major infrastructure upgrades (especially if it is traditional), and a positive mindset from the management. So, we expect no considerable benefit from 5G in the near future, especially with the conventional factory setup. But, this will be implemented in factory space slowly as the manufacturer gets more educated with the advantage of 5G and will be supported with 5G related telecom equipment developed, especially for traditional factories.
With numerous benefits of 5G technology being delivered to the smart manufacturing ecosystem, many manufacturing companies have already started either discussing with telecommunication companies or deploying 5G technology on their shop floors.
Below are some of the latest deployment developments related to 5G technology to make a factory smart:
• Hyundai Motor Group has signed an agreement with Singtel to deploy the telco’s 5G infrastructure network solutions at its Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre in Singapore.
• Huawei recently opened EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Service) Factory in Brazil. It is Brazil’s first smart manufacturing plant that uses 5G in the production process. The space is equipped with artificial intelligence, cloud, and IoT technologies, which are expected to increase production and productivity.
• Nokia recently announced a collaboration with Flex Brazil to deploy 5G private wireless networks in its manufacturing facilities in Brazil. Initially, it will be used to explore the potential of 5G on the shop floor.
• ŠKODA AUTO has launched a mobile private 5G network in cooperation with VODAFONE at one of the manufacturing units to comprehensively test and further develop the technology under real-life conditions.
• X Shore, a Swedish electric boat manufacturer, has enhanced the capabilities of its new factory with a private 5G network supplied by Tele2, using Ericsson’s technology. This is expected to create more efficient and flexible production.