Using 5G and IIoT to unleash digital transformation in manufacturing

5G and IIoT

Earlier this year, telecommunications company Ericsson released a report looking at the future of 5G. The report predicts that there will be 190 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2020 and 2.8 billion by the end of 2025.

5G is poised to take over the world and it’s making its way into industrial environments too.

At this year’s Cybersecurity for Manufacturing Summit earlier this month, Ericsson’s Liia Sarjakoski discussed how 5G and the industrial Internet of Things are integral to digital transformation, tying together data and action in the distributed cloud-native world. Sarjakoski’s presentation examined 5G and IIot along with new business models enabled by 5G, and how to utilize private 5G networks in a manufacturing environment.

“We can all agree, things have been changing fast recently. We had the global pandemic, economic downturn, etc,” said Sarjakoski, Ericsson’s head of IoT ecosystem. “In the last four downturns, 14 percent of companies were able to still profitably grow, despite challenges similar to this. How do they do that? They do that because they adapt. How do you adapt? You need to have the mechanisms and platforms in place that enable you to dissect and understand and detect the change and also you need to have the same mechanisms in place to be able reconfigure your business and do that quickly.”

According to Sarjowski, 5G is key. She said technologies like 5G and IIot are driving unimagined and unexpected opportunities for innovation and growth and enabling business to rapidly reshape and improve.

“As we increase the number of connected things, they can be combined in new ways and the amount of new ways they can be combined in is exponential,” Sarjakoski said. “And then in that exponential pool of combinations, there are some that are new and unexpected and unlock opportunities that we didn’t previously think of.”

According to Sarjowski, 5G can be used to unlock intelligence to help organizations make timely decisions, drive new growth and deliver superior customer experiences. 5G is expected to help organizations efficiently adapt and respond to change and it could help organizations advance their operations to gain total visibility and control.

“This is one network, one set of infrastructure that can offer all this and enabling you to enjoy synergies in data management, authentication, security, integration to other systems, etc,” Sarjowski said. “5G has the potential to be this universal standardized connectivity layer that enables you to have devices and other assets that just work.”

Research indicates that 5G and IIoT can increase economic value for factories and warehouses by 5 to 13 percent. It’s also predicted to increase workplace safety with smart mining and improve the environment thanks to smart pumps. Additionally, these technologies are being used in connected vehicles, creating new sector value of a predicted $750 billion.

Sarjowski has seen this technology at work in Ericsson’s smart factory. Through the use of 5G and IIoT, smart factories can be equipped with enhanced energy monitoring and management. This can lead to a five percent energy cost reduction from increased control of energy consumption.

“The foundational building blocks we’ve been putting in place are about measuring, monitoring, safety, security, remote support,” Sarjowski said. “We’re utilizing technologies for remote support which has been critical during the pandemic as we are only allowed to have a fraction of the typical staff on site. So technologies like this enable us to more effectively collaborate across the onsite and offsite teams.”

5G and IIot can also be used for augmented reality for remote support, which can result in a 50 percent reduction of travel costs by enabling remote service. Other use cases include drones for security rounds, which can result in a 15 percent reduction in site security costs spent on patrolling personnel and vehicles. 5G and IIoT can also enable environmental monitoring for a 5 percent reduction in waste due to environmental production conditions. And this technology can result in lower employee safety incidents.

“5G enables you to connect everyone and everything. You’ll have more and finer granular data available about your business,” Sarjowski said. “You’d be able to control and initiate actions over your assets, enabling you to reconfigure, adapt and transform faster. 5G is a unified connectivity layer which seamlessly supports a variety of different use cases, be it battery conserving sensory devices, computer vision and AR or closed loop real time control of industrial automation.”

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