The idea of Industry 4.0 has been around for a few years now. With the widespread adoption of intelligent connectivity, the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven automation, governments and industry leaders across Asia Pacific are recognizing its potential. Even so, we've only scratched the surface of the revolutionary changes coming to manufacturing.
The transition to 5G networks-bringing fast speed, low latency, and mass connectivity-will supercharge the changes already happening in manufacturing and open new areas for innovation. The challenge for factories now is that they need networks that can keep pace with developing Industry 4.0 technologies as they migrate to 5G.
Safer and More Efficient Operations
Real-time data is increasingly important for manufacturers that want to optimize processes and improve performance.
Industry 4.0 technologies, like AI and IoT, can help manufacturers maximize safety and asset utilization through location tracking and condition monitoring, both at the factory and in the field. They can refine safety protocols with more sensitivity and insight into anomaly detection, for example, or use health and environmental sensors to aid in emergency situations. The factory can share an injured person's vital signs and exact location with first responders and warn them that nearby sensors indicate the presence of smoke or heat.
Predictive analytics, again powered by AI and IoT in the digital factory, can also help minimize downtime and schedule maintenance to avoid disrupting production.
More Data Needs More Speed and Security
This type of smart factory infrastructure generates so much data and involves so many interconnected technologies and endpoints-including robotics, mobility, and field-related applications-that manufacturers need a higher level of reliable and secure computing power to process it. And this challenges the limits of standard network architecture and Wi-Fi.
5G will ultimately provide the power and consistency needed for intelligent Industry 4.0 infrastructure, creating a secure foundation to efficiently move data out of corporate silos, keep it safely within the walls of the facility, and use it to make better business decisions.
Preparing for 5G
While new factories are deploying Industry 4.0 technologies from day one, brownfield facilities can benefit by migrating to 5G in a modular fashion based on their business priorities. Here's how to get started:
- Consider adopting MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing). MEC is an on-premise edge solution that delivers ultra-low latency using wireless technology. This means it can be deployed on the LTE networks that manufacturers use today and integrated with 5G later for even better performance.
- Use 5G alongside LTE and Wi-Fi for operational flexibility and cost savings. By migrating areas of the business from wired to wireless, manufacturers can reduce the number of required access points and take the pressure off network bandwidth as prioritized data is moved to 5G.
- Bring key decision makers together to identify opportunities to eventually enhance efficiency and integrate information and operational technology with 5G. A partner with expertise in 5G can help.
With Industry 4.0 on 5G coming to factories across Asia in the next few years, manufacturers will be empowered to address workforce challenges, realize operational efficiencies, and explore new products and services for customers.