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The Coming of 5G and the Industrial IoT

2588347668_a1006846faFrom the coffee pot in the office, to the locks and lights in the warehouse, to each and every sensor and actuator on your production floor, 5G will allow you to automate all of it. To put it simply, with 5G you can download a 3-D movie in six seconds, whereas it takes six minutes with 4G. The 5G future of wireless should be in wide use by 2020 but what does this mean for the future of manufacturing? A new Ericsson report relates real-world applications and the difficult changes that will come from 5G.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote July 14 on the future development of 5G in this country. Its practical applications include driverless cars, smart home technology, automated surgery, among others that haven’t been invented yet. Among one of the most exciting and consequential results from 5G will be the industrial Internet of Things.

It’s in this industrial IoT that experts have come to understand the need to communicate with and constantly “teach” machines as processes change. It is in this landscape where production no longer works unless communication is immediate and trusted between workers and machines. But, as your warehouse operates today, there are slow-zones, machines that don’t match up perfectly with the systems, and robots that need updates you don’t even know about.

Today, there is no single, global technology to connect all the wired and wireless technology a company uses in its day to day operations. You could be using anything from BlueTooth to Ethernet and everything in between. While 5G will improve and compliment some systems, its endless possibilities will completely replace others. With 5G still on the horizon, there is no set business model for how to use it, but below are a few real-world applications of how 5G could change the manufacturing landscape, and how to be ready.

Let’s first look at 5G’s benefits to robotics technology. If your manufacturing operation relies on different robotic equipment, all software could be stored wirelessly on the cloud. When there is a change or an individual update, you can control it from a phone or tablet, rather than getting into the hardware of each robot or uploading new software one by one. Updates and manufacturing changes can now happen remotely. With fast, uninterrupted access to wireless internet, a manager should be able to sit back and track these robots’ progress across a warehouse floor or throughout an entire campus.

A smart facilities management system means when your robots move cargo from one area to the other, they are able to receive changes to their order or route faster than a human.

So what will your company need to be ready for 5G? You need reliable partners. “The ideal partner has expertise in minimizing risk during highly advanced and multi-access technology rollouts, experience in making customers successful with large, intricate deployments and a strong partner ecosystem to accelerate the process,” according to the report.

Plan ahead. Do not let this be the last 5G article you read before 2020. With new access to radio waves and cloud storage, this transition will bigger than going from 2G the 3G, and you need to start thinking about what your business will look like in four years.

For those who are concerned that the Internet of Things means that robots are going to take all of our jobs, there is good news. That is far from the case. Automation has already taken many of the jobs that humans didn’t like to, or just weren’t meant to do. The future of American manufacturing relies heavily on our ability to not only develop, but understand and implement the newest technologies available.

What makes you most excited about the Internet of Things and 5G? We’d love to hear your opinion so let us know in the comments below!

photo credit: motion gears -team force via photopin (license)

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