Home5GWired vs. wireless factories: Why invest in 5G manufacturing?

Wired vs. wireless factories: Why invest in 5G manufacturing?

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Differences between wired and wireless connectivity at factory floors

When it comes to deploying connectivity on the factory floor, choosing whether to deploy wired or wireless connectivity chiefly depends on the application and factory circumstances.

Wired networks are usually the choice of manufacturing firms that require real-time data communication is required. Wired connectivity enables “network redundancy”, which means that additional or alternate network communication networks are installed to ensure a connection is always available.

Wireless connectivity is installed in scenarios where it is not possible or difficult to install cables. This would be the case for existing manufacturing plants that does not support the use of wireless from an edge device to a control unit.

Wireless network infrastructure is mainly used for devices or equipment that are highly mobile and need to be moved around the factory floor on a frequent basis. A key advantage of wireless networks is that they can be easily extended to reach additional areas within the manufacturing plant.

Benefits of 5G and wireless networks in manufacturing

“Wired infrastructure has long been considered the faster, cheaper and more reliable option for manufacturers. However, the industry is now under increasing pressure to improve its operational efficiency and upgrading technology is often the answer. To support the adoption of industry trends like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), some manufacturers are transitioning to wireless networks,” according to EU Automation.

The introduction of new internet protocols appears to be bridging the benefits gap between wired and wireless connectivity. For the most part, industry is beginning to move away from traditional and proprietary technologies and instead, is recognizing the emerging wireless options that could rival their wired predecessors.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will usher in smart factories. In these futuristic factories, connected devices will be able sense their environments and interoperate with each other, making decentralized decisions. Many expect this transformation will chiefly rely on the capabilities of next-generation 5G networks. The introduction of 5G manufacturing is a major priority for the telecoms sector, as well as attendant technology disciplines, and it has major implications for increasing productivity while controlling costs.

5G networks offer manufacturers the possibility to build smart factories and truly take advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting and the Internet of Things (IoT). The low latency, high reliability, and increased speed of 5G networks are essential to support emerging technologies and their novel applications in this field, such as process automation, remote monitoring and collaborative robots, among others.

According to AT&T, 5G technology will enable manufacturers to drive more functionality closer to the edge of the network.

“Because this network technology’s reliability is so high and its latency so low, equipment can communicate wirelessly with back-end systems for time-critical operations in ways that were not possible before. For the first time, this will combine fast production-line operations with the power of networked intelligence,” the carrier said.

5G technology will also allow for higher flexibility, lower cost and shorter lead times for factory floor production reconfiguration, layout changes, and alterations, which will result in significant improvements in terms of production.

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