BY LAURIE CLARKE - NewStatesman
5G is the much-feted low-latency mobile network that is billed to revolutionise industries and expedite the automation age. Although it’s already managed to inflame the anxieties of some conspiracy theorists who say it’s responsible for the coronavirus pandemic, the technology is still in its infancy. One of the sectors racing at the forefront to adopt it, however, is manufacturing.
ABI Research predicts that by 2028, manufacturing will make up nearly a quarter of the total revenue in the 5G “ultra low-latency use cases” market – where applications must be close to real-time. Barclays estimates that widespread adoption in UK manufacturing could add £2bn in revenue to the sector within five years.
Smart factories that incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors and automation are driving the sector’s need for next-generation connectivity. The technology will allow factories to dispense with floor-clogging ethernet cables, and increase the adoption of wireless machines connected directly to the cloud. The stability and speed of 5G is becoming essential for processing ever-multiplying data streams. In turn, the increased volume of data produced in smart factories can feed into AI systems that more effectively streamline all of the site’s activities.