The desire to improve operating efficiencies is one of the main reasons we are starting to witness the proliferation of more manufacturing facilities investing in the IoT (Internet of Things). Many are calling it the fourth industrial revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0.

As a result, manufacturers recognize that connected factories can now trigger a service request or predict an issue before a machine fails. And with the emergence of 5G, manufacturers are looking to connect those things to automatically collect and analyze data to continue to make the necessary informed decisions in an effort to optimize factory production.

Analysts such as Gartner are predicting some 20 billion connected things by 2020 and Research and Markets, is reporting the global 5G market will soar to a whopping $277 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 111% between this year and 2025.

At the Internet of Manufacturing Midwest conference this past week in Chicago, Hugh Arif, AT&T director & industry solutions architect, said, “The possibilities for 5G are so endless.” He added, “You can’t even dream up some of the outcomes 5G will give to manufacturers.”

AT&T and others insist 5G will offer new operational intelligence and the factories of tomorrow will run on the insights derived from this operational intelligence. Sensors monitoring every aspect of a factory’s working environment will rely on 5G connectivity to deliver realtime data that can make operations more efficient. 5G will also help enable key industry 4.0 trends such as digital twins, automation, and robotics, which are already taking the manufacturing world by storm.

The move to 5G might be coming at a perfect time, as economists are reporting manufacturers are beginning to shift into a lower gear and will need to turn to technology. Today’s technological innovations are forcing manufacturers to reimagine how products are designed and produced and that means faster speeds, lower latency, larger bandwidth, and edge computing.

David Van Dorselaer, industry solutions GM for manufacturing, transportation, and CPG at AT&T Business, added that, “Customers want to better understand the performance of a machine and to provide more predictive maintenance on a particular machine. Better insights will help the customer experience, and this will help them make their products better in the future.”

Diagnostics data can allow for predictive maintenance, which can give manufacturers an edge in predicting faults, assessing issues, and maintaining machines throughout their lifecycle.

“5G is going to make all of this smoother, which is going to add to manufacturers’ bottomlines,” said Van Dorselaer.

He said, “I think when you start to look at future networking capabilities, with edge computing and 5G, that’s where digital twin software will really take place and allow companies to go to the next level with IoT and help build the next product of the future.” Only time will tell if all these solution providers are right and how well will manufacturers leverage all the software tools that are right in front of them.

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