Back in 2016, World Economic Founder Klaus Schwab coined the now familiar phrase ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ to describe a world in which virtual and physical systems of manufacturing cooperate with each other. The industrial environment has changed greatly since then, and today enterprises are responding to myriad new factors, including the continued rise of ecommerce, the ongoing exponential chip demand and supply chain shortages, as well as growing concerns around sustainability and climate change. The convergence of these factors, and the subsequent increase in the number and variety of products, software and services is driving a new phase of digital transformation across industries. As the 4G revolution of the past decade created new digital companies that provided new data driven innovations and scalable products to the consumers, 5G is the new game changer for transforming all industries to become digital or – stay behind.
This is the era of ‘Intelligent Industry’, where all facets of an organization are connected by technology. This combination of cloud, data, AI, IoT and technological advancements in the likes of robotics and augmented reality (AR) is catalyzing the digitization of core industrial processes. 5G is the key enabler, a catalyst facilitating an avalanche of new data to be processed in real time, with the requisite scale, predictability, velocity and security. Organizations across industries are beginning to understand and harness the power of data, and in doing so are enhancing their operations’ performance, becoming more flexible agile, and driving innovation.
Underpinned by 5G
The move towards intelligent industry is what is driving the rapid adoption of industrial 5G and profoundly transforming multiple industries, such as manufacturing, automotive, energy & utilities, mining, healthcare, smart cities, aerospace & defense, retail & logistics, ports/airports – the list is getting larger by the day. Connectivity is a prerequisite for intelligent industry transformation, with 5G bringing together all aspects of an industrial business.
Research conducted by Capgemini highlights that 30 percent of industrial organizations are conducting 5G pilots or progressing to 5G deployments, and 40 percent are expecting to roll out 5G at one site within at least two years. The experience reported by those early adopters has been overwhelmingly positive with 5G in some cases exceeding their expectations. Of those first off the mark, 5G has enabled 60 percent to achieve higher operational efficiency.
5G combined with edge computing is also helping organizations to realize, test and implement a variety of use cases that were previously unachievable, such as video-based quality inspection, intelligent drones, remote operations and collaboration and autonomous robots.
Through these, organizations are realizing new efficiencies to remain competitive.
Unlocking the value chain
5G’s qualities, such as low latency and increased bandwidth, are applicable to a wide variety of applications across the manufacturing value chain, including autonomous operations, video-based quality inspections and remote collaboration. More than half (51 percent) of industrial organizations have plans to leverage 5G and in doing so, offer new products, create more efficient processes and drive new sources of revenue. As we move out of post-pandemic recovery, this Intelligent Industry will kickstart a new period of growth across industries and a burst of evolutionary change with new products and services.
5G use cases can be placed into four different categories:
- Autonomous operations: Technological advances in robotics have driven changes in industry. With this, health and safety can be improved, and efficiencies gained. However, current connectivity solutions such as WiFi, while important for the initial transition, do not provide the necessary range for many operations. This is where 5G comes in. As autonomous robots and drones become staples of the factory floor, 5G enables far greater adaptability, agility and efficiency.
- Remote control: 5G empowers organizations to address critical manufacturing operations through low-latency, high resolution video monitoring communication devices. As the world of work changes, real-time remote solutions can enable video analytics for remote inspections, and aid organizations by detecting faults as and when they happen.
- The connected worker: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are increasingly becoming commonplace in industrial settings. Whereas previously, these technologies have been constricted by limitations, such as a wired connection or bandwidth capacity, 5G integration enabled low-latency remote collaboration.
- Connectivity: 5G provides organizations the opportunity to attain a higher quality of service. For instance, through network slicing, supply chain partners can gain autonomy over their own devices, ensuring governance, higher security standards and increased reliability.
This is Intelligent Industry in action. The rapid adoption of industrial 5G means organizations can establish a competitive advantage, facilitating a conversation between all facets of an operation in ways which have never been achieved before.
Today, the potential of 5G in industry and manufacturing, particularly when integrated with Edge and the Cloud, is the culmination of decades of work. 5G is a journey unlocking amazing industry use cases with enhanced broadband, ultra-reliable low latency communications (urllc) massive machine type communications (mtmc) and time sensitive network (tsn) applications. It’s an exciting prospect for business and for society as a whole to embrace digital. But it’s also a daunting one. If industrial enterprises are to utilize 5G to its utmost, they must lean on their ecosystem network of vendors, customers, partners, and governments to help them build a clear picture of the capabilities that 5G offers and where they can truly add value. In doing so, industrial organizations can become a driving force of intelligent industry to drive amazing innovation and resolve the big challenges of our society and of the planet!
For sources used in this article, please contact the editor.
Fotis Karonis is Global 5G & Edge Offer Lead at Capgemini, a global leader in partnering with companies to transform and manage their business by harnessing the power of technology. The Group is guided everyday by its purpose of unleashing human energy through technology for an inclusive and sustainable future. It is a responsible and diverse organization of over 300,000 team members in nearly 50 countries. With its strong 50-year heritage and deep industry expertise, Capgemini is trusted by its clients to address the entire breadth of their business needs, from strategy and design to operations, fueled by the fast evolving and innovative world of cloud, data, AI, connectivity, software, digital engineering and platforms. The Group reported in 2020 global revenues of €16 billion.