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How 5G offers opportunities in manufacturing

iStock / Getty Images Plus / ultramansk

James Selka

CEO, Manufacturing Technologies Association

Great advancements could be made to the manufacturing industry with 5G technology, however there are several challenges still to overcome along the way.

5G is the fifth generation cellular communication standard and is replacing the 4G-LTE standard which has been used by cellular devices through the last decade. It is a huge step forward for communication technology, as it provides a lower latency, higher bandwidth and increased connection capacity.

In real terms, this means quicker communication between devices, increased download speeds and an increased number of devices being connected. These advancements offer manufacturers opportunities to develop products, improve processes and increase productivity.

Utilising digital twins

The opportunities for 5G in manufacturing exist in areas which exploit the benefits, such as digital twins. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a real-world object, such as machinery. To create an accurate digital twin, you feed it with as much live data as possible from sensors monitoring the machine’s physical state and environmental conditions.

These advancements offer manufacturers opportunities to develop products, improve processes and increase productivity.

The more data provided, the more representative the digital twin. The digital twin can then be used to provide insights into production processes, allowing performance to be analysed and optimised and for any defects to be detected. 5G enables the digital twin by allowing thousands of sensors on a machine to be independently connected to a network and providing virtually no latency between the real-world machine and digital twin model.

Challenges to 5G adoption

There are other opportunities for 5G in manufacturing, such as intelligent machinery, remote supervision and factory simplification. However, there are challenges which need to be addressed before these opportunities are realised.

Challenges include the open accessibility of sensors and data, user-friendliness of the technology, use in heavy metal environments and ensuring legislation matches technical capability.

If you are interested in finding out more about the future of manufacturing technology and in seeing live demonstrations, be sure to visit MACH April 2022 –

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