Addressing the challenges faced by manufacturers requires a systematic approach to boosting operations and optimizing technological processes. These include reaping the benefits of 5G connectivity which, alone, is predicted to add $13,2 trillion to the global value produced by industries by 2035. Of this, almost 33% will come from manufacturing.
Across the world, manufacturing companies that have added 5G private networks to their operations are already benefiting from the technology, which is driving automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) on the factory floor.
The benefits of moving to 5G private networks include improved quality resulting from the use of predictive analysis to reduce the number of defects and detect damage in real-time. Virtual reality-based training is also ensuring safer work practices.
For manufacturers, the problems posed by the traditional factory challenges – which range from machine downtime and maintenance to supply chain delays and quality issues, and inefficient material handling – can be reduced significantly by using 5G private networks to drive the optimization of processes.
Manufacturers acting proactively to address these challenges will benefit through reduced production cycle times, increasing productivity, and overall efficiency on their floor.
The ‘smart factories’ that increasingly rely on automation, augmented reality and IoT will see 5G private networks powering devices and sensors around the factory, integrating AI into operations. Smart innovations could include automated guided vehicles to transport materials or produced goods, remote-controlled operations, digital quality inspection of production to detect defects, rework or enable root-cause analysis of issues.
The introduction of 5G private networks will also see industrial robotics communicating more reliably and with much less delay than was previously possible. Tethered and untethered robots could also be controlled, monitored, and reconfigured remotely over the 5G private network.
Already, some automotive manufacturers are leveraging partnerships with telecom tech companies. Their plant’s 5G private networks are helping to support automotive production on site and being used to track goods in and out of the factories. The networks also support automated guided vehicles in use throughout the plants.
Realizing the benefits, manufacturers are steadily moving to private networks to ensure that they can optimize the benefits of 5G.
Private networks empower users to utilize dedicated equipment and configurations in their networks. And, as they run separately from public networks, they can be deployed within a customer’s premises or in specified geographical areas, offering a dedicated and isolated network environment.
Amongst the other benefits of private networks is exclusive capacity, as there is no competition for space from other network users. High data speeds, up to 10 times faster than previous connectivity, translate into quicker downloads and uploads of large files and data sets, video streaming and large-scale data transfers. Notably, the problems associated with working in industrial areas far from urban centers and having spotty or weak indoor coverage are eliminated.
In a sector where supply chain stock sitting idly on shelves is expensive, 5G private network users are effectively managing supply chains by utilizing ‘just in time’ (JIT) techniques to ensure that materials and equipment are available when needed. The benefits are reduced production delays and improved efficiency. Savings, through reducing the cost of holding excess stock in storage facilities, are also achieved.
MTN believes that 5G private networks will play a pivotal role in transforming manufacturing. Its judicious implementation will be especially beneficial to African-based manufacturers who will be able to use its capabilities to leapfrog competitors who are not as connected, while producing high-quality, desirable products for local and international markets.
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