Welcome back wonderful readers! This is the third blog of my miniseries on emerging technologies. In this blog I’m gonna talk about 5G wireless technology. So, let’s begin without any wait!
What Is 5G And How It Can Transform Lives And Businesses?
Well, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile network. It is here and perfectly ready to revolutionize the way we do things presently. Not only individuals’ lives are set to revolutionize but, businesses are also gonna do entirely better by leveraging 5G. With supercharged speed, it’s time to say goodbye to old days where we had to stare at the screens to wait for downloading to finish. And it’s time to say hello to 5G. Now with 5G we can see, do, and attain more! 5G is a reality of the modern-day world and onward it is the future. The time to act, adapt, and transform is now!
But, is 5G about the connectivity and supercharged speed only? No, 5G is not about just improving connectivity and lightning-fast network in fact, the opportunities provided by 5G are endless, and its already contributing towards a much greater transformation such as from intelligent meters that can monitor carbon scores to driving advanced medical diagnostics, 5G is reinventing next-generation industry capabilities. 5G technology has the muscle to transmute lives, businesses, institutions, industries, governments, and societies. It clearly appears that 5G technology’s positive impact would be ubiquitous in next 5 years. So, sit tight and get ready to delve with me the exciting world of 5G technology!
What Is The Role Of 5G in Business?
First we need to discern that 5G is, fundamentally, different from its precursors. The name 5G might suggest that it is simply a linear extension of preceding cellular networks but, that is not the case. 5G is a momentous step beyond, its predecessors, i.e. 4G, 3G, 2G, and 1G. There is a common fallacy that 5G will deliver better and supercharged mobile broadband but, nothing more than that. Let me clear that fallacy.
Even before 5G, every iteration of cellular network technology had some unique characteristics. For example, the 2G network brought substantial mobile voice communication, the 3G network introduced rudimentary mobile broadband functionality, and later the 4G network enabled mobile streaming of graphic rich content. Now 5G has unique features and elements such as high data rates (20 times higher than 4G with potential to go even beyond this in future), higher system capacity, reduced latency (5G can send a roundtrip data in less than 10 milliseconds), and massive device connectivity. 5G deployment, in business, would multiply network possibilities beyond predecessor cellular network technologies. Precisely, 5G is not just an iteration or extension of preceding cellular networks in fact, it’s a technological paradigm shift. Hence, 5G’s concept is not just limited to ultra-high mobile speed, verily 5G will enrich the insights which business leaders need for effective, robust, and timely decisions. Moreover, the assortment of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G will further amplify the insights business leaders need.
Deployment of 5G In Manufacturing
Now at the granular level, let’s examine the manufacturing industry, followed by a case study, to grasp how the massive benefits of 5G can be unlocked in this industry.
Traditional manufacturing process is a linear process whereby raw materials are ordered/sourced, plant & machinery is preset to operate, production staff manages it, it is maintained over its useful life with regular repairs & maintenance, goods are produced, and delivered to customers/retailers/wholesalers. Do you see any problem with this traditional linear manufacturing process? Apparently no but, there are certain risks involved in it such as risks of machinery breakdowns that can turn out to be very costly & hampering the business activity, long lead times involved etc. Further, in present-day there is extreme unpredictability due to shorter business & product lifecycles, shrinking of profit margins, high competition in the markets, and ageing workforces (in some countries).
You might think what 5G can do to address these issues/risks? Let me address this point in a little while. First let me tell you that since the manufacturing process, we discussed above, is linear therefore it has minimal capacity to respond to any unexpected changes in demand. Therefore some high-powered technology is required to address these risks/issues to make manufacturing process more dynamic, self-adjusting, agile, swift, and highly productive.
The quest for solution, to address these issues/risks, brings us to amazing 5G technology and here it can play its role. Put aside the traditional linear manufacturing process for a while and visualize a futuristic manufacturing process in which technology driven robots assemble/manufacture products on the manufacturing floor. Security drones are used to handle monotonous tasks ranging from monitoring of intruders to validating employee parking. Autonomous vehicles transport parts not only between buildings, but also across the country/region. Factory inspections are carried out remotely while sitting thousand miles away from the site.
This might sound like a science fiction movie to you. But, I’m not talking about some science fiction movie in fact, this is gonna be the reality in forthcoming years. And 5G seems to be the main constituent in delineating the next generation of manufacturing. With the help of 5G, the quality of products would be enhanced further, workflows would be optimized to a much greater degree, health & safety procedures would be upgraded, and the delivery of products to customers will be revolutionized.
Case Study Of Deployment Of 5G Technology
One example of deployment of 5G technology is at the factory of BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) in Shenyang, China. BBA has become the first automobile manufacturer to enable full 5G wireless coverage at all its Shenyang plants. So by enabling the new 5G wireless standard, large quantities of data is being transmitted within a very short span of time. Now, since the data is being processed in small but, high-performance computer centers present on site and no longer need to travel long distances, this effectively means that networked machines and systems are able to exchange data in real time, and can align themselves even better with the manufacturing process. This way 5G has provided BBA the perfect conditions for various digital innovations and with the potential to further enhance efficiency, quality and flexibility in manufacturing process.
The story of enabling 5G at Shenyang plants instigated in October 2018 when BBA started developing a 5G network for its three plants. Thus, 21 mobile phone masts and 35 5G base stations were completed in April 2019. Before that, BBA already had full 5G network coverage at its car plants in Tiexi and Dadong, and at its powertrain plant. After only three months of technical optimizations, the 5G data rate amplified from an initial 600 megabytes per second to one gigabit per second. Fascinating! With this much speed, a complete high definition (HD) movie can be downloaded in just a few seconds.
Potential Benefits Of 5G In Manufacturing
5G is gonna benefit manufacturing business in sweeping ways. The level of ease with which you control your TV with a controller/remote, 5G could help you to control your manufacturing process with the same level of ease. Let’s see how 5G could benefit manufacturing business.
1). 5G connectivity can help engineers to troubleshoot from a remote location. Remote visibility and monitoring, enabled by 5G, can help manufacturers to acclimatize in case of any crisis like the one world faced in the form of COVID-19 pandemic.
2). 5G can further advance existing manufacturing processes thereby creating new business opportunities.
3). 5G can have an intense impact on many aspects of operations. It can enhance inventory tracking, premises & equipment security, warehouse operations & logistics, assembling activities, packaging of products, and employee training & safety.
4). 5G can facilitate remote analysis thus supporting real-time decision making, while boosting condition-based remote monitoring for predictive maintenance, asset tracking, and preventative maintenance.
5). 5G can augment productivity of machines, equipment, and employees.
6). 5G can help in reconfiguration of production lines, which is considered to be one of the most difficult manufacturing activity using present technologies.
How Secure Is 5G And How To address Security Concerns (If Any)?
Since we have understood 5G and its benefits, now let’s evaluate whether it has adequate security for individual and commercial use. 5G has inbuilt security that is superior to its predecessor 4G. However, since 5G enables more actions in dynamic and non-linear environments therefore the increased number of end-points, interactions, and intrusion points fetch apprehensions.
Hence, for commercial usage/deployment, a comprehensive risk management framework is essential in managing potential risks. Moreover, policy measures, governance structure, roles & responsibilities, and procedures related to data would also need to be altered along with integration with ever changing regulatory requirements, reporting needs, and industry’s best practices.
Futuristic businesses have already started exploring how 5G can impact their business. 5G is a technological breakthrough that has the potential to transform how the individuals interact and how the businesses are carried out. 5G is revolutionizing industries like healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. The possibilities with 5G are endless. While, 5G is still nascent but, beyond any doubt 5G will continue to play a significant role in shaping the future. With sensational emerging technologies such as 5G, I can easily say that “sky is the limit”!