How could 5G drive a digital transformation in manufacturing?

With the widespread implementation of 5G imminent here in the UK, many manufacturers are keen to explore the opportunities it may present in helping to drive a much needed digital transformation in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers are beginning to view 5G technology, and its associated high data speeds, as a vital component to their business - with more than two-thirds of firms planning to use the technology within the first two years of availability, according to a report by Industrial Operations.

What’s more, the UK government announced earlier this summer that it was pledging £40 million to 5G trials in manufacturing – demonstrating a clear confidence in the technology’s potential for the industry.

Many also believe 5G will be the main driving force for propelling the industry into its fourth industrial revolution – also known as Industry 4.0.

With this in mind, SinoScan UK explore how 5G could drive this digital transformation:

What is 5G?

5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless and is said to be up to 20 times faster than its predecessor, 4G. To put this into context, with 5G, movie downloads will decrease from 7 minutes to just 6 seconds, you’ll save on average 2 minutes and 20 seconds a day waiting for social media to load and nearly 7 hours on large game downloads! But aside from everyday smartphone usage, this technology has many more opportunities for businesses as well.

Increased automation

Many manufacturers have already begun the process of digitisation, with a PwC report finding that more than half of manufacturers (59%) are already utilising some kind of robotics during production.With 5G, this number will only rise thanks to its ultra-fast speeds, allowing manufacturers yet to implement digital production processes to do so easily and much more efficiently.

Faster speeds to maximise productivity

As we have already mentioned, 5G is faster than any previous cellular wireless network. This will allow manufacturers to connect to online devices at a much quicker rate. From accessing real-time data, to carrying out maintenance; all these processes will be done in a fraction of the time, helping manufacturers to boost productivity and profitability.

What’s more, 5G has much lower latency, so manufacturers can expect to see much less delay when using online services, which’ll once again help to speed up manufacturing processes.To give you an idea, with 4G networks, latency is typically around 40-50 milliseconds. With 5G it should be 1 millisecond or less, which is barely noticeable.

In a study carried out by Nokia, 5G was found to improve the productivity of robots by 260%. In the set time frame, the robot connected with 4G was able to produce 12 parts; compared to the robot connected to 5G, which successfully assembled 31 parts.

Improved quality management

Collecting real-time data will also be a lot quicker and easier with the use of 5G. Real-time monitoring provided by 5G’s low latency will enable manufacturers to improve the quality of their manufacturing processes, avoiding errors and thus improve their overall quality management

In a recent case study carried out by Ericsson – a manufacturer of electronic boards – technicians were supplied with augmented reality troubleshooting glasses, connected to a 5G network. Technicians were able to find faults far quicker and thanks to the 5G network, the results were fed back to their cloud-database in seconds; resulting in 20% more efficiency in troubleshooting during the manufacturing process.

Remote control and maintenance

With 5G, manufacturers will be able to manage machinery remotely at any time. Not only could this help boost productivity, but it also offers safety benefits in environments where often-hazardous machinery is used – therefore removing the need for direct-human interaction.

In a world-first experiment, a German-based company were able to complete an excavation in South Korea, 5000 miles away, simply using a control device connected by 5G wireless technology.

Unified supply change management

Using 5G, manufactures will be able to combine a variety of technologies together to fuel automation; which will allow employers to better monitor quality, increase speed, respond to supply fluctuations, and simplify workflows. Higher supply chain awareness allows manufacturers to alter production strategies and optimise schedules for better business results.

Despite volatile markets and Brexit uncertainty, 5G gives manufacturers a lot to hope for and we’re looking forward to seeing the impact it has over the next 12 months!

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Delivery and Quality Metrics - Last 12 months

At the crux of the services of any off-shore supplier are timely deliveries, consistent quality and cost-efficiency.

We strongly believe that one of the fundamentals of a successful supply chain partnership is clarity for all parties involved. This is why we have decided to publish our delivery and quality performance track records on a monthly basis.

This graph shows our total performance over the past 12 months.