How 5G will change the world

Manufacturing is transitioning to Industry 4.0. Digitization and advancements continue in the manufacturing process to create flexible, efficient and sustainable production lines. 5G is the key enabler of this change. 5G technology offers manufacturers the ability to take advantage of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and the Internet of Things (IOT). With private and public 5G networks, manufacturers can link systems inside the factory floor to supply chain, distribution warehousing and customer service. 5G supports better logistics, inventory tracking and improved security.

5G upgrades from 4G to 6G and supports a wide range of applications. It is able to support three pillars which are:

1. mMTC: massive machine type communications (IOT with 1 million nodes per km2)

2. uRLLC: Critical commands with ultra reliability (>99.999%) and low latency, as low as 1 millisecond.

3. eMBB: Enhanced Mobile Broadband with a speed of 100 Mbit/s and a capacity of 10 Tbit/s (tera (1,000 giga) bytes per second) of throughput per km2.

5G applications in manufacturing

• No need for wired connectivity leading to a flexible manufacturing environment

• 5G technology will impact the way goods are produced and distributed. 5G applications help reduce costs, reduce downtime, reduce waste and improve productivity

• High reliability and high speed of 5G supports smart manufacturing applications such as process automation, remote monitoring/maintenance

• Digital Factory Twin: using 5G, you can have a digital replica of the factory. The hypothesis can be tested in the replica and after obtaining satisfactory results in the replica, physical modifications can be made at the factory.

• IOT sensors, AI vision cameras and autonomous robots will be supported by 5G. IoT sensors will be installed on machines to monitor status and send alerts for routine maintenance

• Assets can be located (positioning even to the nearest centimeter) and managed in real time. Machines can be configured to optimize safety, efficiency and quality

• 5G-enabled Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) can be used to transport heavy materials around large industrial facilities. The 5G URLCC application helps AGVs deliver materials optimally.

• 5G-enabled real-time video analytics with 4K video camera: Visual quality inspection, workplace security, factory monitoring, and intrusion detection are some of the applications.

• Push to video 5G for maintenance:

A 5G-enabled push to video device can capture detailed images of the equipment to be maintained and send the image to the expert for assistance, which shortens the breakdown time and there will be no requirement transport. Compared to existing agreements, this initiative will reduce operating expenses by 50%

• We can have collaborative robots – robots communicating with each other over 5G. In mining operations, robots can be deployed where it is dangerous for humans to venture

• 5G-enabled drones can be used for security and surveillance. They can be used to identify and count inventory.

• 5G frees staff from working on fixed computer workstations. AR tools enable visual interaction with machines and products on the go and remotely. Safety is improved due to fewer people in the facility.

• A 5G-enabled VR (virtual reality)/AR application can be used to train staff.

Some of the areas where 5G can create changes in the logistics industry are

• With 5G network connectivity, fleet providers can track vehicles. The driver can receive timely alerts on road conditions avoiding accidents. The optimal route can be chosen to avoid delays

• 5G network can help with real-time monitoring of vehicle status and sending maintenance alerts. Accidents can be avoided because breakdowns can be anticipated. Repair and maintenance of AR assisted vehicles will be useful to provide additional assistance on and off road

• 5G can support unmanned automated vehicles, increasing the production rate of freight transport by up to 30%

• 5G-enabled autonomous drilling, robotics and ventilation in mining, oil and gas industries save lives, increase productivity and reduce operating expenses

• 5G-enabled driver monitoring system checks if the driver on wheels is drowsy/drunk and alerts him in real time, if necessary.

• Workers can be monitored and managed remotely. 5G-enabled remote CCTV can help with automatic face detection and time recording of workers. Using geolocation, the location/activity of workers can be tracked to ensure safety. ANPR (automatic license plate recognition) at the entrance/exit can detect any intrusion attempt.

5G in SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises)

In our country, there are 63 million SMEs and they contribute to 33% of manufacturing production. Although large enterprises will have the means to adopt 5G technology, it will be a challenge for SMEs. Private 5G will support the necessary connectivity, security, and cloud-based application development, enabling faster adoption of advanced manufacturing processes by SMBs. The relevant ministry has adopted a cluster development program to improve the productivity of SMEs. In common equipment centers, which are set up for each cluster, 5G applications can be tested by SMEs, train their staff, set up an advanced manufacturing process compatible with 5G, validate it, understand its benefits before adopting him into their unit.

5G in PM Gati Shakti

PM Gati Shakti’s national master plan provides multi-modal connectivity infrastructure to various economic zones. This transformative approach is driven by seven drivers, namely railways, roads, ports, waterways, airports, public transport and logistics infrastructure. 5G can contribute significantly to reducing the costs of all the above logistics. It can modernize the rail signaling system and increase its accuracy by allowing more freight trains to run on the same track, helping to achieve the goal of 50% of rail freight transport by 2030, up from 33 % currently. 13 of our main ports handle 70% of our exports and imports. They are being modernized as part of the Sagar Mala project launched in 2015 and their logistics cost will be reduced. 5G can play a major role in reducing vessel turnaround time (which is currently four times the global average) and therefore logistics costs.

Sports use case

Full body motion capture sportswear, worn by the sportsman, can be connected in 5G. Using real-time analytics in the cloud, a 3D simulation of the athlete is run and sport-specific parameters are created, enabling scientific and high-quality coaching by the coach.

5G for public safety

The live 4K feed from HD video cameras, installed in public places, can be relayed over the 5G network to data centers where analytics and AI engines reside on an edge computing platform. The processed information can be relayed again over the 5G network to the security operations center to monitor and provoke a response.

Connect the unconnected

5G will connect the unconnected – provide quality education and health care in the villages as we can have peak operation with the 5G core.

Go forward

5G will act as a catalyst, driver and enabler in the transformation of the manufacturing industry. The logistics cost currently represents 13 to 14% of the overall cost in our country, which is the highest in the world. The deployment of 5G can reduce this cost to 5%.

Sub-millisecond round-trip latency, reliability, and availability will enable 5G touch-enabled Internet applications in the future. A sense of touch can be transported to the other side in real time using touchscreen internet. Smart factories, remote industrial operations, high-risk and precision mining will be among the critical applications of 5G touch internet.

(The author is a former adviser to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India)

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