Why 5G Private Networks are Critical to Enterprise Digital Transformation

May 20, 2021
5G Private Networks

Today’s enterprise manufacturing facilities are undergoing a seismic change – in the technologies they are adopting as well as the processes they are implementing. This new transformative era, dubbed “Industry 4.0,” is pressing companies to digitize nearly every aspect of manufacturing. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robots, “cobots,” (collaborative robots), complex sensors, cloud computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) are all bringing massive value to the production and supply chain process.  

But in order for enterprises to truly derive value from this onslaught of smarter, connected “things” across industries, there needs to be strength in network resilience and speed.

Enter the expanded interest and fascination with 5G-enabled private networks. With super-fast speeds and near-zero latency, enterprises can alleviate reliability concerns associated with connectivity systems. With the need for wired connection eliminated, the ecosystem is understandably enticed by 5G’s enablement of a far greater degree of flexibility.

A 5G-enabled factory will possess the ability to communicate with faster response times and maintain connections with far more sensors than any previous wired or wireless systems. For example, the latency of 5G is 1-10m whereas Wi-Fi and 4G would be closer to 20m or more. Factories with 5G will also be able to implement substantially more connected devices per unit area, up to ten times more than Wi-Fi and 4G. This creates an environment where immediate gains in productivity and flexibility as well as operational efficiency can be achieved.

5 Benefits of 5G Private Networks For Enterprises

1. Maximized Operational Efficiency

By capturing real-time data from IoT devices or sensors placed across the production line, organizations now have greater insight into all aspects of operations and are presented the ability to analyze processes with far greater precision. With near real-time data combined with the utilization of AI, the condition of machinery and actual manufacturing processes are monitored and evaluated so that adjustments can be made instantly to optimize overall factory performance.

By utilizing the ultra-high speed and low latency of 5G private networks, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) will now become more common in the smart factory or warehouse, increasing the efficiency of production as well.

2. Supply Chain Optimization

With 5G private networks, greater visibility equals seamless optimization in the supply chain for enterprises. With the use of connected tools and equipment, there will be an increased ability to automate the entire supply chain process by the responsive replenishment of stock and parts, ensuring on-time delivery and limiting risk of delay.

3. Visibility in Asset Tracking

Knowing the location of all connected devices and machinery is paramount to achieving efficiency gains inside the factory. The advent of positioning methods such as cloud-based cellular location brings with it a disruptive level of accuracy in a private network. Factories will now be able to locate any 5G-enabled device with 3D sub-meter precision. Combined with the support for a high density of connections, companies are now able to track more, lesser value assets, creating a host of new, more accessible use cases.

4. Predictive Maintenance

Balancing the need to minimize downtime and maintenance needs of an enterprise’s production facility is not an easy feat. By leveraging 5G connectivity, data analytics and IoT to predict maintenance requirements, the risk of downtime due to machinery failure is reduced and predictive maintenance windows can be adequately planned. Wireless coverage from 5G achieves this by allowing every step of the production line to be monitored.

5. 5G Private Networks = Heightened Safety for Workers

The wide array of device sensors available, coupled with 5G’s near instantaneous response time, will create a significantly safer production environment with enterprise private networks. Less workers will be required to manually operate heavy machinery on the factory floor, and emergency shut-down indicators will be more responsive.

Efficiencies can be further gained by the use of edge computing in the 5G private network. Sending, retrieving, or computing of data on the edge of the network rather than in the cloud is not only significantly more secure, but can cut response times. Saving milliseconds may not sound like a lot, but every millisecond counts when considering automation inside the factory – especially in environments that are more hazardous for human workers.

The mobility of workers and autonomous vehicles can be made safe through 5G-enabled tracking sensors placed across a cobot environment.

Ultimately, 5G private networks promise to bring major operational benefits to enterprises. They not only bring new capabilities to technology and productivity, but also carry strategic value in the form of a sharper competitive edge.

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