5 ways 5G will revolutionize efficiency in the manufacturing industry

5 ways 5G will revolutionize efficiency in the manufacturing industry.

5G is here, and the manufacturing industry is gearing up for its nearly unlimited possibilities, from optimizing operations and processes to streamlining quality control systems, enhancing employee productivity, and much more.

The future of manufacturing starts with 5G.

A recent study by the Manufacturers Institute found that manufacturers are expecting 5G to impact key aspects of factory operations profoundly.1
About four-fifths of manufacturers say 5G technology will be important to:

  • Inventory tracking (83%)
  • Facility security (81%)
  • Warehousing and logistics within their facilities (81%)

Plus, around three-fourths of manufacturers think that 5G will also have a big impact on:

  • Inspection (76%)
  • Assembly activities (76%)
  • Employee training (71%)

The great 5G-fueled transformation has already begun.

With more manufacturers allocating budget and resources to emerging 5G-driven opportunities, momentum is building rapidly. The industry is already experiencing a surge in productivity levels catalyzed by digital transformation.

For example, U.S. manufacturers’ output is growing, even as company headcounts have declined.2 Now, Industry 4.0 technologies―made more attainable with 5G wireless connectivity―are poised to contribute to even greater efficiencies, too. 

By reliably transmitting data in real time, 5G can have the edge over alternative wireless technologies like Wi-Fi. Because plant managers can better predict when maintenance is needed, repairs can be completed proactively, before malfunctions or breakdowns occur.

How 5G is driving change in manufacturing.

Here are five ways that reliable, high-speed connectivity supported by 5G networks—and the massive amounts of data captured from manufacturing machines and processes in real time—will take efficiency in manufacturing to new heights.

1.    Improved predictive maintenance
Manufacturers use predictive maintenance to ensure that factory equipment and other assets remain safe and in optimal working order. For real-time visibility of machine health, wireless sensors continuously send data to cloud-based analytics applications across the network.

By reliably transmitting data in real time, 5G can have the edge over alternative wireless technologies like Wi-Fi. Because plant managers can better predict when maintenance is needed, repairs can be completed proactively―before malfunctions or breakdowns occur.

With high data speeds and reliable connectivity, 5G can enable more sensors to be deployed to more assets, providing richer data than ever before. High-performance, low-latency network environments also support innovative vibration and motion sensors. According to MarketWatch, these will profoundly impact the manufacturing industry in the coming years: "The global vibration monitoring market is projected to expand at 8.7% CAGR during the forecast period."3 Vibration and motion sensors connected across a constellation of inputs provide manufacturers with more actionable analysis and diagnostic capabilities, helping them preemptively avoid costly repairs.

2.    More efficient asset tracking
Relying on 5G to track assets, inventory, and equipment in factories in real time will improve manufacturing industry efficiencies. While many manufacturers do this today using IoT, 4G/LTE, and Wi-Fi, 5G supercharges the practice. Since it has the potential to handle more densely connected assets, operators can remotely locate and manage more assets in real time—requiring fewer people and resources, while also providing expanded and continuous asset tracking capabilities.

5G can also support applications that provide greater visualization of not only where assets are located, but also how and when they are being used. This transparency reduces overhead by streamlining operational, maintenance, and repair processes. A recent study by Ericsson found that asset condition monitoring provides a substantial return on investment for manufacturers, decreases downtime, reduces material costs, and can reduce the need for spare parts by 10%.4

3.    Cost-effective digital twins
Digital twins offer extremely detailed virtual representations of physical systems, processes, or objects. They can be used to predict and understand how to utilize manufacturing infrastructure as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Now, 5G is redefining how digital twins are created and provide value.

Generating realistic digital twins and dynamic simulations requires high volumes of real-time data and information. Data must be quickly, reliably, and securely moved from one location to another. In manufacturing, the availability of low-latency, high-bandwidth 5G connectivity plus IoT sensor technology make digital twins significantly more affordable and feasible—allowing manufacturers of all sizes to create and stress test factories of the future on their digital devices.

With 5G-enhanced speeds and throughput, AGVs and robots can utilize more advanced technologies like machine learning and analytics to navigate safely. They can recharge themselves to optimize battery life and maintenance, record assets they interact with, and more.

4.    Reliable robots and autonomous guided vehicles
Eliminating manual processes and creating safer human-machine interactions in shared spaces are the two most critical benefits of autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), automated mobile robots (AMRs), and collaborative robots (cobots). Robots and AGVs in factories mean fewer people are needed for basic operations, allowing workers to focus on more complex responsibilities and advance to more highly skilled jobs.

5G’s reliable high-speed wireless connectivity will make robots and autonomous vehicles more practical and useful than ever. Moving from Wi-Fi to 5G wireless connections can allow AGVs and robots to operate reliably throughout a facility. This provides manufacturers with better access to data derived from those connected assets—and the confidence of knowing reliable building-wide connectivity supports their factory operations.

According to the Manufacturers Institute, companies are expecting 5G will deliver significant value to:

  • Enable new applications (82%)
  • Increase automation (80%)
  • Enable utilization of AR/VR applications (80%)
  • Enable utilization of mobile robots and AGVs (79%)
  • Redesign factory spaces and machines (79%)
  • Create line of sight into operations remotely (77%)
  • Decentralize decision making (76%)

With 5G-enhanced speeds and throughput, AGVs and robots can utilize more advanced technologies like machine learning and analytics to navigate safely. They can recharge themselves to optimize battery life and maintenance, record assets they interact with, and more. 5G-fueled AGVs can also travel beyond warehouses, factories, and across campuses to other buildings and outside locations.

5.    Safer remote monitoring with HD video
5G networks that enable higher-definition video streams from fixed cameras and drones will improve remote monitoring with high-definition (HD) video in factories and warehouses. When teamed with computer vision, an artificial intelligence (AI) analytics application that allows computers to interpret and understand images, the same cameras can do even more. By monitoring the assembly process, identifying product defects, keeping tabs on equipment, and ensuring environments are secure and efficient, they help keep workers safe and improve productivity.

While Smart HD video analytics today works with 4G devices, faster 5G will support the increasing density of cameras, providing the uplink bandwidth and quality of service required by 4K and 8K video. 5G will also provide real-time insights from analytics that use the most advanced AI, machine learning, and cloud technologies.

We built our 5G network to give you an advantage today.

With America’s largest and fastest 5G network, T-Mobile® for Business is ready to help manufacturers like you unleash the power of 5G now and prepare for the emerging use cases of the future.

We offer a collaborative approach, building customized solutions to help you get ahead of the 5G curve faster. Lean into 360° support from a team of experts dedicated to helping your business create efficiencies—and supercharge operational results.

T-Mobile® for Business has an ambitious vision for fueling innovation in manufacturing. To continue exploring 5G-fueled transformations across the manufacturing ecosystem, visit our industry webpage today.

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