Tag Archives: Digital Transformation Era

Future Factories with 5G

The world is moving fast. If you are a manufacturer still using Industry 3.0 today, you must move your shop floor forward to Industry 4.0 for being relevant tomorrow, and plan for Industry 5.0, for being around next week. 5G may be the answer to how you should make the changes to move forward.

There has been a sea of changes in technology, for instance, manufacturing uses edge computing now, and the advent of the Internet of Things has led to the evolution.

At present, we are in the digital transformation era, or Industry 4.0. People call it by different names like intelligent industry, factory of the future, or smart factory. These terms indicate that we are using a data-oriented approach. However, it is also necessary to collaborate with the manufacturing foundation. This approach is the Golden Triangle, based on three main systems—PLM or Product Lifecycle Management, MES or Manufacturing Execution Systems, and ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning.

With IoT, there is an impact on the manufacturing process, depending on the data collected in real-time, and its analytics. Of course, it complements existing systems that are more oriented to the process. Therefore, rather than replace, IoT actually complements and collaborates with the existing systems that help the manufacturer to manage the shop floor.

IoT is one of the major driving factors behind the movement that we know as Industry 4.0. One of its key points is to enable massive automation. This requires data collection from the shop floor and moving it to the cloud. On the other end, it will need advanced analytics. This is necessary to optimize the workflow and processes that the manufacturer uses. After the lean strategy, there will be a kind of lean software, acting as one more step towards process optimization within the company and on the shop floor.

However, manufacturers will face several challenges as they grow and scale up their IoT initiatives. These will include automation, flexibility, and sustainability. Of these, automation is already the key topic in the market—the integration of technologies to automate the various manufacturing processes.

The next in line is flexibility. For instance, if you are manufacturing a product in a line, it takes a long time to change that line for making another product.

The last challenge is rather vast. Sustainability means making manufacturing cost-effective by improving the processes and the efficiency of the equipment. It may be necessary to minimize energy consumption, and decrease lead time and manufacturing time. It may involve using less material and reducing wastage.

With the advent of 5G, manufacturers will be witnessing many new and exciting possibilities. The IoT of today has two game-changers that will affect the IoT of the future. The first game-changer is 5G, while edge technology is the other. Ten years ago, IoT was only a few devices sending data to the cloud for human interaction and analytics.

Now, there has been a substantial increase in the number of devices deployed and the amount of data traffic. In fact, with the humongous increase of data, many a time, it is not possible to send everything to the cloud. While 5G helps with the massive transfer of data, edge computing helps standardize the data and compute it locally, before the transfer.