Connectivity will be key in the smart factory of the future, with sensors monitoring every aspect of the production environment.
Thanks to its reliability and low latency, 5G will help manufacturers optimise the use of sensors as well as automation and other advanced technologies in their operations – which in turn will help them to increase efficiency and production quality and reduce equipment downtime.
The 5G and Edge Networks in Manufacturing report from ABI Research highlights the likely growth of 5G cellular connections in manufacturing over the next decade, with the global market predicted to reach $10.8bn (£9.2bn) by 2030, growing at a compound annual rate of 187%.
However, capturing that value will require ecosystem players to evaluate how to measure the impact of 5G and edge deployments on the factory floor, said Don Alusha, senior analyst at the tech market advisory firm.
Industry 4.0 digitalisation is often focused on conventional financial metrics such as return on investment, net profit and cash flow as the yardstick to measure 5G and edge computing effectiveness. But these metrics do not lend themselves to the factory floor.
Instead, Alusha explained, Industry 4.0 ecosystem entities must consider alternative measurements such as throughput, inventory and operational expense for the incoming flow of capital, for capital located inside, and for capital going out, respectively.
These three measurements enable Industry 4.0 partners to show a direct connection between 5G and what takes place on the factory floor. They can then use that connection to find a logical relationship between daily plant operations and overall company performance.
With greater reliability and data speeds surpassing those of 4G networks, a combination of 5G and local edge computing will lead to commercial benefits ranging from agility and process optimisation to better and more efficient quality assurance and productivity improvement.
“The implications for solution providers such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE are that they must enhance their ‘value add’ by complementing their deep technical expertise with business expertise including vertical industry knowledge, new functional expertise (sales, marketing and accounting) and solution design and consulting expertise tailored at niche use cases,” Alusha concluded.
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