Like other industries, the Internet of Things in the manufacturing industry and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strive to be realized through wireless connections and technologies that support it. Today, the Internet of Things relies on low power consumption and long distance, and the narrowband (NB) standard solves this problem. NB connectivity can support many IoT use cases, including event detectors, smart trash cans, and smart metering. Industrial applications include asset tracking, logistics tracking, machine monitoring, etc.
But as 5G connections continue to be built nationwide, a whole new level of speed, efficiency and performance will help unlock new IoT use cases.
5G will be used for higher data rate transmission and ultra-low latency requirements. In fact, a 2020 report by Bloor Research pointed out that the future of 5G, edge computing and the Internet of Things are key drivers of Industry 4.0.
For example, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the IIoT market is expected to grow from US$68.8 billion in 2019 to US$98.2 billion in 2024. What are the main factors that are expected to drive the IIoT market? More advanced semiconductors and electronic equipment, as well as more use of cloud computing platforms-both of which will be driven by the 5G era.
On the other hand, according to a report by BloorResearch, if there is no 5G, there will be a huge network gap in the realization of Industry 4.0-not only in providing connections for billions of IoT devices, but also in terms of transmitting and processing the massive amount of data that will be generated.
The challenge is not just bandwidth. Different IoT systems will have different network requirements. Some devices will require absolute reliability, where low latency is essential, while other use cases will see that the network must cope with a higher density of connected devices than we have seen before.
For example, in a production plant, a simple sensor might one day collect and store data and communicate with a gateway device that contains application logic. In other cases, IoT sensor data may need to be collected in real time from sensors, RFID tags, tracking devices, and even larger mobile phones through the 5G protocol.
In a word: the future 5G network will help realize a large number of IoT and IIoT use cases and benefits in the manufacturing industry. Looking ahead, don’t be surprised if you see these five use cases shift with the introduction of powerful, reliable connections and compatible devices in the multi-spectrum 5G network currently under construction.
Visibility of production assets
Through IoT/IIoT, manufacturers can connect production equipment and other machines, tools, and assets in factories and warehouses, providing managers and engineers with more visibility into production operations and any issues that may arise.
Asset tracking is a key function of the Internet of Things. It can easily locate and monitor the key components of production facilities. Coming soon, the company will be able to use smart sensors to automatically track the movement of parts during the assembly process. By connecting the tools used by the operators to any machine used in production, the plant manager can obtain a real-time view of the production output.
Manufacturers can take advantage of these higher levels of visibility in the factory to quickly identify and resolve bottlenecks through the use of data generated by dashboards and the latest Internet of Things to help achieve faster and higher-quality production.
Ensuring plant equipment and other assets are in good working condition is the manufacturer's top priority. A failure can cause serious delays in production, which in turn can lead to serious losses in unexpected equipment repairs or replacements, and customer dissatisfaction due to delays or even cancellation of orders. Keeping the machine running can significantly reduce operating costs and make the production process smoother.
By deploying wireless sensors on machines throughout the factory and then connecting these sensors to the Internet, managers can find out when a device starts to fail before it actually fails.
Emerging IoT systems supported by wireless technology can sense warning signals in equipment and send the data to maintenance personnel so that they can proactively repair the equipment, thereby avoiding major delays and costs. In addition, manufacturers can also benefit from it, such as a potentially safer factory environment and longer equipment life.
Improve product quality
Imagine that during the entire manufacturing cycle, sending high-quality critical condition data through environmental sensors to continuously monitor products can help manufacturers produce better quality products.
When the quality threshold is reached or conditions such as air temperature or humidity are not suitable for the production of food or medicine, the sensor can alert the workshop supervisor.
Supply chain management and optimization
For manufacturers, the supply chain is becoming more and more complex, especially when they begin to expand their business globally. The emerging Internet of Things enables companies to monitor events throughout the supply chain, providing access to real-time data by tracking assets such as trucks, containers, and even individual products.
Manufacturers can use sensors to track and monitor inventory as they move from one location to another in the supply chain. This includes the transportation of supplies needed to produce the product, as well as the delivery of finished products. Manufacturers can increase their visibility into product inventory to provide more accurate material availability and schedules for shipping products to customers. Analysis of data can also help companies improve logistics by identifying problem areas.
The emergence of the Internet of Things will make it possible for manufacturers to create digital twins—virtual copies of physical devices or products that manufacturers can use to run simulations before actually building and deploying the devices. Due to the continuous flow of real-time data provided by the Internet of Things, manufacturers can create a digital twin of basically any type of product, which will enable them to find defects faster and predict results more accurately.
This may lead to higher quality products and also reduce costs, because the products do not have to be recalled once they are shipped. The data collected from the digital copies allows managers to analyze how the system works under various conditions on site.
With a series of potential applications, each of these five potential use cases can revolutionize manufacturing. In order to realize the full promise of Industry 4.0, technology leaders in the manufacturing industry need to understand the key challenges that the Internet of Things will bring and how the future of 5G will deal with these challenges.
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