As in other sectors, IoT and industrial IoT (IIoT) related to manufacturing are made possible by wireless connectivity and the technologies that support it. Today, IoT relies on low power and long range, which the Narrowband (NB) standard addresses. NB connections can support a variety of IoT use cases, including event detectors, smart trash bins, and smart metering. Industrial applications include asset and logistics tracking, as well as machine monitoring, and more.
But as nationwide 5G connectivity continues to develop, an entirely new level of speed, efficiency, and performance will help create new IoT use cases.
5G will be necessary for higher data rate transmissions and ultra-low latency needs. In fact, a 2020 report from Bloor Research indicates that the future of 5G, edge computing and IoT combined, are key enablers for Industry 4.0.
According to a report from Markets and Markets for example, the IIoT market is expected to grow by 42.7% over the 5-year period ending in 2024. Among the major factors driving the IIoT market are more advanced semiconductor and electronic devices, and an increase in cloud computing platforms—both of which the 5G era is expected to drive.
The Bloor Research report also noted that without 5G there will be significant network gaps to enabling Industry 4.0—not only in providing connectivity for billions of IoT Industry 4.0 devices, but also in transferring and processing the enormous amount of data that will be generated.
The challenge isn't simply about bandwidth, though. Different IoT systems will have different network requirements. Some devices will demand extremely high reliability where low latency will be critical, while other use cases will see networks that will be forced to cope with a much higher density of connected devices than we’ve ever seen.
For example, at a production plant, someday simple sensors might collect and store data and communicate to a gateway device that contains application logic. In other situations, IoT sensor data might need to be collected in real-time from a variety of sensors, RFID tags, tracking devices, and mobile devices across a wider area via 5G protocols.
Bottom line: 5G in manufacturing has the power to help unlock a variety of IoT and IIoT use cases and benefits for Industry 4.0. Looking ahead, it wouldn't be surprising to see these five use cases transform with strong, reliable connectivity from multi-spectrum 5G networks that are currently being built and the introduction of compatible devices.