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How 5G will change the world
5G will act as catalyst, driver and facilitator in transforming the manufacturing and logistics industry
Manufacturing is undergoing a shift to industry 4.0. Digitisation and advancement are going on in the manufacturing process for creating flexible, efficient and sustainable production lines. 5G is the key enabler for this shift. 5G technology offers the manufacturers the opportunity to take advantage of automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and the Internet of Things (IOT). Using private and public 5G networks, manufacturers can link systems inside the factory to supply chain, distribution warehousing and customer service. 5G supports better logistics, tracking of inventory and safety enhancement.
5G is transitioning from 4G to 6G and supports a wide range of applications. It is capable of supporting three pillars which are:
1. mMTC: massive Machine Type Communications (IOT with 1million nodes per Sq km.)
2. uRLLC: mission critical controls with Ultra Reliability (> 99.999 per cent) and low latency, as low as 1 millisecond.
3. eMBB: enhanced Mobile BroadBand with 100 Mbps speed and capacity of 10 Tbps (Tera (1000 giga) bytes per second) throughput per sq km.
5G applications in manufacturing sector
• No need for wired connectivity leading to flexible manufacturing environment
• 5G technology will have an impact on the way of production and distribution of goods. 5G applications help in cutting costs, reduce down time, reduce wastage and improve productivity
• The high reliability and high speed of 5G supports applications in smart manufacturing such as process automation, remote monitoring/maintenance
• Digital Factory Twin: Using 5G, one can have a digital replica of the factory. The hypothesis can be tested in the replica and after getting satisfactory results in the replica, physical changes can be made in the factory
• IOT sensors, AI vision cameras and autonomous robots will be supported by 5G. IoT sensors will be installed on machines to monitor status and send out alerts for routine maintenance
• Assets can be located (positioning even to the extent of centimeter) and managed in real time. Machines can be configured to optimise safety, efficiency and quality
• 5G enabled Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) can be used to transport heavy materials around large industrial facilities. The URLCC application of 5G helps AGVs to deliver materials optimally.
• 5G enabled Real time video analytics with a 4K video camera: Visual quality inspection, workplace safety, plant surveillance and intrusion detection are some of the applications.
• 5G push to video for servicing:
A 5G enabled push to video device can capture detailed images of the equipment to be serviced and send the image to the expert for getting assistance which reduces fault duration and there will be no transportation requirement. Compared to legacy arrangements this initiative will reduce the OPEX by 50 per cent
• We can have collaborative robots- robots communicating with one another on 5G. In mining operations robos can be deployed where it is dangerous for human beings to venture
• 5G enabled drones can be used for security and surveillance. They can be used for identifying and counting the inventory.
• 5G frees up staff from working at fixed computer terminals. AR tools enable visual interaction with machines and products while on the move and remotely. Safety is improved due to fewer people present in the facility.
• A 5G enabled VR (Virtual Reality)/AR application can be used for training the staff.
Some of the areas where 5G can create change in logistics sector are
• With 5G network connectivity, fleet providers can track vehicles. The driver can receive timely alerts about road conditions there by averting accidents. Optimum route can be chosen to avoid delays
• The 5G network can help in real time vehicle condition monitoring and sending alerts on maintenance. Mishaps can be averted as breakdowns can be anticipated. AR assisted vehicle repair and maintenance will be useful in providing additional support on and off the road
• 5G can support unmanned automated vehicles, increasing the freight transport production rate up to 30 per cent
• 5G enabled autonomous drilling, robotics and ventilation in the Mining and Oil & Natural Gas industries save lives, increase productivity and save OPEX
• The 5G enabled driver monitoring system checks whether the driver on wheels is drowsy/ intoxicated and alerts him/her in real time, if required.
• Workers can be remotely monitored and managed. 5G-enabled remote video surveillance can help in automatic face detection and time recording of workers. Using geo- fencing, worker location/activity can be tracked for ensuring safety. ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) at entry/exit can detect any intrusion attempt.
5G in SMEs (Small and Medium enterprises)
In our country 63 million SMEs are there and they contribute to 33 per cent of manufacturing produce. Although large enterprises will have the wherewithal to adopt 5G technology, it will be a challenge for SMEs. Private 5G will support required connectivity, security and cloud based application development leading to faster adoption of advanced manufacturing processes by SMEs. The concerned ministry has adopted a cluster development program for enhancing the productivity of the SMEs. In the common facility centres, which are set up for each cluster, 5G applications can be tested by SMEs, train their staff, set up a 5G enabled advance manufacturing process, validate it, understand the benefits before adopting it in their unit.
5G in PM Gati Shakti
PM Gati Shakti National Master plan is providing multimodal connectivity infrastructure to various economic zones. This transformative approach is driven by seven engines namely railways, roads, ports, waterways, airports, mass transport and logistics infrastructure. 5G can significantly contribute in reducing the cost in all the above logistics. It can modernise the railway signalling system and increase its accuracy allowing more goods trains to run on the same track, contributing to reach the goal of 50 per cent of goods transport on rail by 2030 from the present 33 per cent. 13 of our major ports handle 70 per cent of our exports and imports. They are being modernised under the Sagar Mala project launched in 2015 and their logistics cost will be brought down. 5G can play a major role in reducing the ship turnaround time (which at present is four times the global average) and thereby the logistics costs.
Sports use case
The full body motion capture sportswear, worn by the sports person, can be connected over 5G. Using real time analytics in the cloud, 3D simulation of the sports person is run and sports specific parameters are created, enabling high quality and scientific coaching by the coach.
5G for public safety
Live 4K feed from HD video cameras, installed at public places, can be relayed over 5G network to data centres where analytics and AI engines reside on an edge computer platform. Processed information can be relayed again over 5G network to Security Operations Centre for monitoring and causing response.
Connect the unconnected
5G will be an enabler to connect the unconnected - to provide quality education and health care in villages as we can have edge running with 5G core.
5G will act as catalyst, driver and facilitator in transforming the manufacturing industry. Logistics cost at present is 13-14 per cent of overall cost in our country which is the highest in the world. 5G deployment can bring down this cost to 5 per cent.
Round trip sub-millisecond latency, reliability and availability will enable 5G tactile internet applications in future. A sense of touch can be transported to the other side in real time using tactile internet. Smart factories, remote industrial operations, high risk and precision mining are going to be some of the critical applications of 5G tactile internet.
(The author is a former Advisor, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India)