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5G Enabled Industrial IoT - The critical game changer for Manufacturing Industry

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Industry 4.0

5G-enabled Industrial IoT (IIoT) is one of the fastest-growing technologies in the manufacturing industry. The global market for 5G-enabled IIoT will rise from $0.5 billion in 2020 to $15.7 billion in 2026. Experts predict that compounded annual growth rate for 5G-enabled IIoT will be a staggering 79.1%. Estimates indicate that by 2035, the Global economic output enabled by 5G in the Manufacturing industry will be $3,364 billion.5G cannot be ignored in the manufacturing sector.

What makes Industrial IoT the trend that is here to stay? What is the role of 5G in the manufacturing industry? What are the key challenges that 5G-enabled Industrial IoT poses?

Introduction to 5G-enabled Industrial IoT

Before we look at the role of 5G-powered IIoT in the manufacturing industry, let's understand the basics of this technology.

What is Industrial IoT?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industrial is a combination of intelligent machines, data analytics, communication mediums, and user interfaces. IIoT brings together industrial devices through many networks that collect, exchange, monitor and analyze data.

The real-time data obtained from these smart devices can help perform various functions, such as predictive analytics, improve the efficiency and output of a plant, and even accelerate new products' development.

How will 5G transform IIoT?

A highly-wireless Industrial IoT system allows manufacturing industries to reduce costs, obtain greater flexibility, and achieve high mobility. The current challenge for manufacturing industries is selecting the right wireless technology to offer seamless connectivity between devices. This is where 5G comes in.

The 5G vision is expressed in the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) standards development organization standards. Up until 4G, these standards were aimed at improving cellular networks. The 5G vision aims to build technology that moves beyond mobile networks, voice, text-and-Internet, and cellphone services.

5G standards provide technologies that will enable operators to enter new markets such as:

  • Broadband-to-the-home over fixed wireless links
  • Enterprise networks with indoor small-cell radio units
  • Wide-area, low-bandwidth connections for IoT, and industrial networking in factories and production plants
  • Low-latency, high-reliability connections to industrial robots, process control, and monitoring equipment

The deployment of these 5G standards will happen over the next few years. The first phase started in early 2019 when small-scale trials of broadband-to-the-home services and mobile hotspot devices were carried out in select city centers. The further penetration of 5G-enabled technologies now depends on organizations and business plans to determine if they are well-placed to expand into new areas.

Industry 4.0 + 5G-enabled Industrial IoT: The Leap Forward

Combining 5G technologies with Industrial IIoT enables real-time visibility into the manufacturing processes. Let us look at some use cases.

5G-powered IoT in manufacturing: Use Cases

The low latency, wireless flexibility, and high-speed connectivity of 5G networks can transform the manufacturing industry. 5G networks can provide businesses the connectivity that they desire without the cost and complexity of hardware such as fiber optic cables, making them highly suitable for high-precision manufacturing environments.

These are some of the use cases where 5G can play a vital role:

  • Factory automation: Mobile robots, automated material movement, motion control, point-to-point control.
  • Process automation: Improved efficiency, lower energy consumption, high safety levels in production processes.
  • Human-Machine Interface (HMI): Remote operation of devices, Interactive Controls.
  • Logistics and warehouse: Real-time data of the stored product quality
  • Monitoring and maintenance: Machine health, leak detection, defect monitoring sensors, and control devices.

Read more about this in our journal entry on predictive maintenance applications of IIoT.

Functions Powered by 5G-enabled IIoT in manufacturing

Each use case can be further classified into the following functions, depending upon their criticality.

Optimization of time-critical processes: 3D scanning technologies, wearable technology, and collaborative robots in closed-loop control systems can leverage massive sensing integration. Continuous monitoring can promote the transition towards zero-defect manufacturing, higher efficiencies, improved safety, and worker satisfaction.

Optimization of non-time-critical processes: IIoT allows better control over operations in high temperature, harsh, and unsafe working environments by providing indoor coverage, more reliability, and increased flexibility.

Remote maintenance and control: The integration of 3D virtual reality environments can facilitate video-supported remote maintenance. This can help optimize the cost of operation and increase the uptime significantly.

Seamless connectivity: The essential advantage that 5G offers is fast, reliable, and seamless connectivity. Numerous assets, machines, and interfaces are distributed over a large area in an IoT-powered manufacturing setup.

There is a need for a highly autonomous, ultra-low-power consuming, and low-cost communication platform to provide better and support mobility. 5G can fill this gap by allowing communication platforms to interact in real-time. This can drive new value-added services and optimize a product's design by providing real-time data collected during its entire lifetime.

Industry 4.0

5G-enabled Industrial IoT: The Outlook

The Industrial IoT market for the manufacturing industry is in a stage where opportunities are aplenty to realize the vision of a truly wireless world. Many industries are working on creating feasible architecture for large-scale IIoT systems.

Amazon recently announced AWS "Wavelength Zones" to support latency-sensitive applications at the 5G Network Edge. This technology would embed a portion of the AWS infrastructure within the edge data center and reduce data transfer time from the AWS cloud device.

As 5G specifications mature, IIoT platforms will improve exponentially. Industrial automation will scale greater heights as latency-sensitive 5G-enabled IIoT applications enter the market.

The market will continue to grow and may reach USD 105.4 billion by 2025. The increasing demand for high reliability and low latency networks in the manufacturing industry is a key driver. We will witness increased partnerships, collaborations, and new product launches to offer market players lucrative opportunities in the next five years.

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