The importance of 5G is going to be profound. And it’s going to be important to the future of the Internet of Things and more specifically within the context of the workplace. The real question then is how might 5G affect workplaces? Even more importantly, how will 5G impact manufacturing?

5G is in its infancy, and it’s really hard during this early phase of a technology’s development to understand its ramifications. But I can say this: 5G is expected by many to be a disruptive technology that will bring a lot of economic value to society. What kind of value are we talking about?

Well, according to ResearchAndMarkets, the global 5G market is expected to reach $277 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 111% between 2019 and 2025.

5G is going to support the growth of the IoT, including autonomous robots in myriad industries and connected devices in sectors like retail, manufacturing, and energy, among others. If you’re still not sure what the hype is all about with 5G, let me fill you in briefly.

The fifth generation of cellular mobile communications will offer really low latency and high bandwidth. The speed and low latency will enable new use cases across every vertical market.

AT&T is on record saying the arrival of 5G technology will prompt manufacturing’s biggest transformation yet—surpassing all previous industrial revolutions. 5G offers operational intelligence—the holy grail for enterprises competing for business in a connected world.

The factories of tomorrow will run on insights derived from 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.

Let’s take a look at how this may work in real life. If you attended IMTS, the Intl. Manufacturing Technology Show, last fall, you may be familiar with aspects of this case study.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology teamed up with Ericsson and GF Machining Solutions to present a 5G-enabled adaptive manufacturing solution that demonstrates how 5G could impact this industry so much.

First things first, as many of you know, when milling parts at high speeds, vibrations can wreak havoc, creating defects and forcing costly rework.

Even the slightest surface defects aren’t going to fly in some sectors that have really strict compliance controls, like aerospace.

Blade-integrated disks, which are a component of a jet engine’s compressor, were coming out sub-par. Up to 25% of these disks needed rework, and this was costing a lot of time and money.

So Fraunhofer, Ericsson, and GF Machining Solutions came together to create a realtime process-monitoring solution based on 5G technology that can communicate with sensors and machines to reduce errors in jet engines milling production.

To give a sense of what is being talked about here, 5G can deliver sensor and production data in less than one millisecond. The ultra-low latency of Ericsson’s 5G network unlocked better production control, allowing for fault detection and adjustment of the cutting parameters in realtime.

This, of course, led to better quality and far less rework. To put a number on it, the companies estimate that by using 5G-enabled process monitoring, a factory could save up to $30 million annually.

But there’s many other ways 5G will impact manufacturing. How about video speeds?

As consumers, we tend to think faster and reliable video will benefit other industries, but manufacturers will be very fired up about it as well. Consider factory video monitoring and the use of artificial intelligence to analyze video feeds in realtime for product quality, machine health, and safety issues.

This application will certainly benefit from 5G. And, in reality, any industry that currently uses or may use remote training or video conferencing solutions will also benefit from 5G, including manufacturing.

Similarly, any business that relies on mobile connectivity indoors, especially in a warehouse or a factory environment with a ton of square footage, will also benefit from 5G’s improved indoor connectivity. 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.

It’s important to consider how 5G may impact equipment fleet management for manufacturers.

Remote management of equipment is an important part of achieving optimal operations.

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.

Manufacturing is in for a big change thanks to 5G. Analysts and industry observers have been talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a result of the IoT for a while now, but as already noted, 5G is going to help push us into this new era of manufacturing.

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