Private 5G and edge computing: a perfect match for manufacturing
Private 5G is the next evolution of networking for mission-critical applications used in factories, logistics centers and hospitals. In fact, any environment that needs the reliability, security and speed of a wired connection combined with the movement of people, things and data.
The element of movement is often a factor in Industry 4.0 digital transformation – and that’s where private 5G shines.
Private 5G is deployed as an extension of an organization’s WAN. It’s fast, secure, reliable and has low latency. You can rely on it to transmit data. But if you don’t have a computing resource at the edge where the data is collected to create actionable intelligence in real time, you’re missing out on revolutionary possibilities.
Edge computing brings out the real potential of private 5G
Bringing managed private 5G together with managed edge computing enables businesses to analyze situations in the now – no more waiting for data to be collected (often a slow process) and sent to a data center to be processed first.
In manufacturing, this combined-platform approach quickly delivers the right information to where decisions have to be made: the factory floor. This has implications for everything from an evolutionary increase in productivity and quality, to greater flexibility and customization.
Organizations also have to control data sovereignty, ownership and location. Private 5G can protect data by ensuring that all traffic remains on-premises.
While private 5G is a powerful tool, use cases make it exciting
If you switch to private 5G, it helps to avoid Wi-Fi access-point proliferation as well as blind spots in monitoring, as asset-based sensors can collect and transmit huge volumes of data quickly, and we can achieve indoor-positioning accuracy of less than one meter.
It’s also a much simpler exercise to reconfigure connectivity between devices and improve the timing and synchronization of data feeds from sensors.
Last year, Cisco’s Strategic Execution Office ran a study on private 5G in collaboration with Deloitte, titled “Vertical Use Cases Offer Development”, which delves into the main applications of private 5G through use cases.
They found that the highest demand for private 5G is in the manufacturing, logistics and government industries. Their findings match our experience, as these are the sectors in which NTT’s Private 5G and Edge as a Service are most in demand.
Moving from broad themes to specific applications
The study identified four themes: enabling hybrid connectivity; activation and policy setup for varied sensor profiles; advanced intelligence with private 5G and the edge-computing stack; and integrated app and infrastructure to enable business outcomes.
NTT’s experience has taught us that these themes can be translated into five main areas of application:
- Group wireless communications (push-to-talk) enable workers to communicate across locations, with real-time location tracking.
- Private 5G supports augmented reality and virtual reality, allowing for self-assist, work-assist, and remote-assist capabilities.
- Private 5G makes real-time connectivity and control possible for autonomous guided vehicles.
- Computer vision for automatic video surveillance, inspection and guidance is faster and more efficient on a private 5G network.
- Connected devices can remain reliably and securely connected to the enterprise network throughout the work shift without relying on Wi-Fi or portable hot spots.
Exploring the difference 5G will make in manufacturing
The study also explores how private 5G can optimize assets and processes in manufacturing, assembly, testing, and storage facilities. Private 5G allows for faster and more precise asset tracking, system monitoring, and real-time schedule and process optimization using location and event data from sensors and factory systems.
The research provides two examples of private 5G use cases in factories:
- Factory asset intelligence: Traceability from parts to product, with increased sensor enablement across manufacturing, assembly and testing sites
- Dynamic factory scheduling: Closed-loop control and safety applications enabled by real-time actuation, sensor fusion and dynamic process schedules.
As we continue to explore the potential of private 5G, it is clear that this technology has the power to transform the manufacturing industry and pave the way for a more efficient and effective future.
To find out more about the use cases private 5G unlocks and how they can offer business benefits, download NTT’s white paper: Smart manufacturing: accelerating digital transformation with private 5G networks and edge computing.