Tuesday 21 September 2021
 
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5G in Manufacturing

Ram Ramachandran

5G NXT – the network in the factory of the future

Dubai, UAE, 15 days ago

By Ram Ramachandran
5G will supplement the high-speed manufacturing environment with a far greater degree of flexibility by eliminating the need for wired connectivity. 5G in manufacturing will empower intelligent, digitised processes with end-to-end connectivity, states an industry expert as he talks about the role and expanse of 5G in manufacturing and how is it slated to transform the Factories of Future.
 
The new era of wireless networks has the potential to enhance key manufacturing processes, enable new use cases, and deliver impactful business outcomes including but not limited to Operating Expenses (Opex) reduction, safety improvement, etc. With lightning-fast, ultra-low latency, edge computing, network slicing, and more, 5G is playing an integral role in the 4th Industrial Revolution with ubiquitous and reliable connectivity.
 
5G will help the manufacturing sector accelerate its digital transformation journey by powering Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) proliferation, predictive and real-time analytics, remote operation management, critical machine to machine communication, 360-degree immersive visualisation with Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR), smart wearables and drones enhancing the safety and security of its human and physical assets, etc. 
 
The next generation of cellular networks will help address challenges faced by the enterprises, improve operational efficiency and enhance customer satisfaction. As per a recent report, it is predicted that 5G will reach 80 million subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region by 2025, which will account for 10 per cent of the total mobile subscriptions. 
 
The current scenario
 
While businesses have already begun their digitalisation initiatives, the manufacturing sector currently faces an array of challenges:
 
Downtimes due to inefficiencies in asset tracking, utilisation, and management
Quality issues that arise from manual inspections
Irregularities in material availability due to poor supply chain management
Disruption of operations due to unscheduled maintenance or breakdowns
Skill gaps and the lack of availability of skilled workforce
Workforce safety and environmental concerns
 
Building ‘smart’ factories-of-the-future
 
A fully connected, agile, and automated setup, that’s what 5G promises to manufacturing… Imagine a factory with end-to-end connectivity – machines and people talking to each other, operations monitored remotely but in real-time, continuous data transfers happening enabling analytics-driven decision-making, and all this in an environment that is fully private and secure. With 5G, this will soon be a reality.
 
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): To enable smart and intelligent manufacturing, data must be collected from all machines and devices. With 5G connectivity and edge computing, sensors can be installed across the shop floor to collate and analyse data. From quality checks to predictive analytics and operation efficiency, massive IIoT powered by 5G will enable better visibility and productivity. From just about 50,000 today, Gartner forecasts that the 5G IoT Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and Ultra-reliable Low Latency (URLLC) communication installations in the manufacturing sector will hit over 11 million by the end of 2029.
 
Digital supply chain: Availability of time-critical machinery plays an important role in the production line. Switching from the traditional model to a digital supply chain will enable real-time inventory management and tracking of materials within the premises, ensuring quick response times.
 
Operational transformation (OT): Beyond the regular IT transformation that is an ongoing process, 5G-powered OT transformation will help this sector benefit enormously. Digitalisation of manufacturing processes will increase efficiency and productivity while reducing defects and downtimes.
 
  • Automated, AI-powered quality checks and inspections to reduce rejects and enable early fault detection
  • Real-time monitoring of assets and machinery to monitor health and performance, reducing the chances of failures or unscheduled maintenance
  • Leveraging AR/VR-based expert assistance for maintenance to significantly reduce Mean Time to Repair (MTTR).
 
Digital twin: A concept that is seeing great traction lately, the digital twin is a virtual or digital representation of physical systems to monitor, track, and analyse processes in real-time to gather insights that enable learning, reasoning, and improved decision-making. It also helps increase productivity and helps save millions that are normally lost due to machine downtimes.
 
Factory safety: With 5G private networks, all critical data is stored within the factory, and all data transfers happen on-premise. Additionally, 5G connectivity will enhance safety on the ground by powering drones and CCTV cameras for 24/7 surveillance. With wearables, workforce health and movements can also be monitored in real-time.
 
5G NXT of Manufacturing
 
There is a huge opportunity for 5G in the manufacturing sector, to improve workforce and business outputs. By streamlining operations with a digital infrastructure, industries stand a chance to increase overall productivity. 5G adoption is also part of the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0.
 
The digitisation of manufacturing is set to change the industrial landscape. Many industrial establishments becoming network-enabled will move toward wireless networking technology.
 
How can the organisations achieve that? Here are the ways:
 
 • Implementing in IT/OT areas including data collection, analysis & providing closed-loop feedback
  • Designing, planning, implementation, and management of infrastructure services
  • End-to-end management of factory applications and security services
   • Over-The-Air (OTA) saving potential for Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) through a reduction of 30 per cent due to Warranty accruals and 20 per cent on recalls
 
5G Use Cases in Manufacturing
 
Connected Cars: Modern automobiles serve as an extension of a mobile user’s experience, but with limited user control; a vehicular experience is often influenced by factors outside the driver’s control. This is mitigated significantly with connected cars; for example, it is possible for your car to anticipate a crash and navigate to a stop. 5G with low latency makes a compelling case for the future of Connected Cars.
 
Network Slicing in Smart Vehicles and Transport: Slicing enables the creation of dedicated partitions for emergency services, entertainment, logistics, and a wide range of other services. With self-driving cars, 5G technology holds the potential to transform vehicular experiences as an extension to the user’s home or workplace.
 
Wireless and Secure factory: Catalysing IoT with 5G opens into several advancements in manufacturing – and is dependent on the utilisation of 5G networks to facilitate product customisation and maximum production output, simultaneously, but without any sacrifices to flexibility, sustainability, traceability, or safety. With real-time data distribution, workers are also able to stay apprised of the situation, and with more efficiency than ever before.
 
Fleet Management & Remote Monitoring: 5G makes a compelling case for IoT in lifecycle engineering and predictive maintenance. With real-time data collection, it becomes possible to boost fault detection, assessment, and even guide maintenance operations; at the same time, this data could also be used to design and deploy updates for future improvements.
 
The future of manufacturing
 
What 5G is poised to do, in short, is change the way this sector operates in the coming days! From process optimisation to quality improvements or safety, 5G connectivity will enable transformation on all fronts and has the potential to add value worth billions. At Tech Mahindra, innovation – helmed with 5G as a catalyst – leads the charge in eliminating much of these shortcomings by aiding factory inspectors in the inspection process and by automating several parts of asset and worker management.
 
5G capabilities will enable massive machine-type communication and can accelerate the growth of Middle East’s IoT and M2M (Machine-to-Machine) industry. It is expected that 25 per cent of all journeys in the city to be autonomous by 2030, which is expected to deliver significant annual cost savings. To help the manufacturing industry leverage 5G technology, Tech Mahindra has crafted a solution suite that addresses industry-specific challenges. With benefits like a 30 per cent drop-in inspection time and a 10 per cent improvement in production efficiency, we are helping enterprises overcome challenges and build future-ready business models.
 
About the author: Ram Ramachandran is Senior Vice President and Head, Middle East & Africa at Tech Mahindra
 



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