In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has noted that manufacturing is “relatively more important to the rural economy than to the urban economy,” underscoring the essential connection between a strong manufacturing sector and the economic well-being of rural towns everywhere.
Due to the high cost of installing fiber optic networks, rural communities have traditionally not received the same technology investments as urban areas. As a result, innovations such as robotics and predictive maintenance that are driving efficiencies for many modern companies have been slower to reach the factory floor in those communities. But that doesn’t mean manufacturing 4.0 can’t benefit rural communities.
5G wireless networks can help accelerate innovation by enabling digital technologies, such as sensors and drones, that can drive process improvements and modernize rural factories in other ways.
For instance, the next-generation connectivity of 5G can bring augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) inside the factory, opening the possibilities of remote training and consultations conducted by specialists, regardless of where they’re based. Among the benefits, the National Safety Council reports that AR and VR training may be able to mitigate the risk of workplace injury. All of this makes for a safer work environment and smoother operations.