As we near the beginning of a new decade, 5G technology is predicted to take the world by storm, and the automation industry is no exception. 5G networks, expected to launch globally in 2020, will be critical in powering the growing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Let's explore what the widespread introduction of 5G will mean for professionals in manufacturing and automation.
5G: More Than Mobile Phones
While mobile operator networks are often the first application that the term 5G brings to mind, the technology will also revolutionize manufacturing via private networks. Enterprise networking, IIoT, and critical communications are just a few areas in which 5G is expected to make waves in the industrial automation sector. Companies that have already begun introducing 5G technology into their factories are "seeing increases in performance, determinism, low latency, and reliability" (Automation.com).
A Better Network in 2020
According to the IEEE, the world's largest organization for technological advancement, 5G will offer a few key benefits over it's predecessors, 3G and 4G. With a latency of mere milliseconds, users will experience a significant reduction in lag when they request data from 5G networks. 5G data rates will also be much greater, ranging from 1-20GB/s, allowing users to download content faster than ever before. Finally, 5G will offer increased capacity, as the network continues to expand.
At Hannover Messe 2019, the well-attended 5G Arena showcased burgeoning 5G tech to automation professionals, demonstrating the industry's growing interest in applying 5G networking to the realm of manufacturing. Industry applications range from large-scale sensor networking, AR/VR, and industrial robotics to controlling autonomous vehicles in factories (Automation.com).
Who's Using 5G?
Key industry players have begun the process of adopting 5G technology for use in their factories around the world. Automotive manufacturer Daimler has already rolled out a private 5G network of their own, which will support Mercedes-Benz manufacturing at their factory in Sindelfingen, Germany:
Verizon and Corning are partnering to explore possibilities for the use of 5G technology in manufacturing. “5G will usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution enabling massive steps forward in robotics and automation that will transform supply chain management and create smarter and more efficient factories,” remarked executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Business Group, Tami Erwin (Automation.com).
IIoT, edge computing, Augemented and Virtual reality are just a few of the technologies that will be supported by the increased performance of 5G networking as we approach 2020. While only time will tell exactly how 5G will change the landscape of industrial automation, many predict that the new technology will support a new decade full of innovation and prosperity for manufacturers and other automation industry professionals.