Manufacturing industries have been looking for opportunities that enable business growth through the adoption of new technologies. Standalone robots, big data and Machine Learning are examples solutions sought out to answer innovation demand in industries. An effective strategy for adopting these technologies should be implemented to ensure competitiveness in the industrial market. One of the technological supports behind these technologies involves the concept of Industrial Internet of Things, where sensing and transmitting data are essential to business — learn more in IoT in Industry. Against this backdrop, we will understand the importance of 5G in this strategy.
5G is the acronym of the moment. It means the fifth generation of the mobile internet, which provides network speeds up to 100 times faster than currently used, thus becoming a major driver of the Internet of Things. With features superior to today’s technology, the 5G guarantees very low latency and up to 99.999% reliability. In the industrial environment, these numbers are very important, since they allow the data acquisition and sensoring in real time, a characteristic of IIoT.
The history of mobile networking technology is old. In 1980, we went through 1G, which represented analog cell phones. After digital communication systems began to expand, 2G emerged, responsible for GSM technology, digital transmission and SMS. In the year 2000, 3G technology was introduced, bringing high-tech packet-switched data networks, a message transmission technique in which small units of information are sent through network stations over the best available route between origin and destination. In 2010, it was 4G’s turn, a technology responsible for the growth of mobile broadband, which improved the speed offered in 3G by up to 10 times. In 2019, we started testing 5G, which offers more exciting possibilities than those offered by 4G, such as ultra high definition video, virtual reality applications and support billions of connected devices.
From Wi-Fi to 5G
While Wi-Fi was one of the great drivers that allowed a variety of tasks to be performed wirelessly, we often face network slowdowns. In production environments where there is dependence on the wireless networks, any delay can be costly and impact production and profits.
In an attempt to take advantage of high rates of speed and reliability, many companies are considering the use of private 5G networks. This infrastructure enables the creation of a dedicated 5G LAN with connectivity, customized services and high security. In the industrial scenario, this is reflected in numerous benefits:
- Eliminates Ethernet network cables, reducing costs and increasing the possibility including more sensors and IoT devices;
- Allows the creation of dedicated virtual environments for each sector of the operation. In addition, the network can be optimally optimized for different areas, meeting demands as needed;
- Allows private 5G network management to be done locally, enabling full control of infrastructure, such as security, resource allocation and network device priorities;
- Enables real-time communication between sensors and devices, allowing standalone robots and resource-intensive applications to be supported over the network.
5G in manufacturing
One of the areas most interested in the 5G network is manufacturing. In the age of smart industries, the Industrial IoT concept gains potential for an unprecedented business boost. The ability to monitor every type of machine and process in real time allows us to extract information about potential failure risks before they occur, as well as validate product quality issues.
The mass of data provided for high-level applications will serve to guide teams in various scenarios within the shop floor. Machine learning techniques employed in robots will result in optimized movements and enable highly customized products. Employees will have augmented reality devices at hand and virtual environments will be created to accelerate solution development. Greater technological integration between areas of the manufacturing process will enable cost savings, increased profitability and business expansion by offering increasingly customized products to customers.
Like any wireless network technology, 5G depends on the availability of frequency ranges to operate. It covers frequencies ranging from 700 MHz to 30 GHz, reaching the millimeter wave frequency range (mmWave). The various frequency ranges used by the mobile network are used to meet long range scenarios as well as high bandwidth availability. The higher the signal frequency, the lower the wave penetration, that is, it’s more difficult to get a signal. Another difficulty is the insertion of antennas in mobile devices, which need a lot of space to open the necessary apparatus.
The fourth industrial revolution will allow for very high and unprecedented data flow. By integrating the 5G network with the IIoT system into a digital strategy, smart industries will have greater flexibility in the relationship between suppliers and customers, accelerating deliveries and meeting customizations. The 4.0 industry concept becomes real in this scenario and it is up to the industries to incorporate this technology into the manufacturing scenario.