Industrial automation? What does this mean and for which companies is this interesting? The control of physical processes by means of machines and control systems is becoming increasingly more important for the industry. Industrial automation promises to have a positive impact on the productivity and cost efficiency of industrial process flows. At the same time, the importance of 5G technology continues to grow, as it provides the basis for on-demand communication and coordination of industrial machines and systems using automation technology.
So it is worth it for forward-looking companies to take a closer look at industrial automation applications using 5G technology and learn about the potential of the use cases. In this blog we highlight the key benefits and use cases of industrial automation in a 5G campus network.
The importance of 5G for industry
For the first time, companies are able to operate mobile networks and are no longer dependent on mobile providers. A 5G campus network turns a company on a dedicated site into their own mobile network and network infrastructure operator, because private, local networks are separate and protected networks that have no integration with the public mobile network.
5G campus networks are ringing in a new era in Industry 4.0, as private networks provide the fast and reliable connectivity needed to automate and network machines and plants. At the same time, 5G fulfills the prerequisites for the digital transformation of industrial processes, across the entire value chain. This opens up many new use cases in the industrial environment, including industrial automation, digital work instructions and remote operating of vehicles and machines.
5G stands for the fifth generation of mobile communications and, compared to previous generations such as 4G or 3G, offers faster speeds, lower latency and the ability to connect more devices simultaneously. The seamless integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices increases efficiency, productivity and flexibility in industrial production. 5G’s low latency enables real-time applications such as remote operations, autonomous vehicles, and augmented reality to be used in Industry 4.0.
Application areas of 5G for industrial automation
The industry holds many use cases for automation based on 5G that can contribute to the cost efficiency of enterprises. Significant industrial automation possibilities in the field of production and logistics are for example:
1. Autonomous robots in manufacturing:
Autonomous robots can independently perform tasks such as welding, assembly, painting and quality inspection. They can move independently on the manufacturing floor and perform tasks without human intervention. This not only frees up employees’ time, but also makes it easier for them to maintain an overview of production processes and ensure product quality.
2. Autonomous logistics systems:
These include, for example, self-driving forklifts or transport robots that move goods from one place to another. The machines can communicate their current position with each other and the status of their task execution in real time.
3. Drones for remote inspection and maintenance:
Drones can be used to maintain machinery and equipment remotely. They can also be used in industrial environments to record warehouse conditions and inventory to save on operating costs. They provide live images of the condition of plants, which can also be used for early fire detection, for example. This makes inspection and maintenance more cost- and time-efficient, but also allows faults and damage to be detected earlier.
4. (Partially) autonomous vehicles in the automotive industry:
Autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles can make decisions and communicate with each other autonomously, based on sensor information and artificial intelligence. Here, 5G enables automated vehicle control and safety, as well as real-time communication and real-time analysis of telemetry data.
5. AI-controlled production facilities:
Here, machines and systems are equipped with artificial intelligence to make autonomous decisions and optimize processes. 5G offers the possibility of real-time data processing, which is essential for monitoring and controlling industrial processes. AI analyzes production data in real time and can even predict when a machine is likely to fail. This can minimize downtime and bring about more efficient production processes.
6. Smart factories:
Intelligent factories, also known as smart factories, bundle the possibilities of industrial automation. They use advanced technologies such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and more to automate and optimize production processes and can respond to changes or disruptions by adjusting production lines accordingly. Real-time communication between machines and systems is crucial for the automation and coordination of production processes. The ability to connect a variety of machines, sensors, cameras and other devices also plays a key role in smart factories. With 5G, smart factories can use applications such as autonomous vehicles for material handling and AI for production control, while counting on high reliability and availability.
Overall, industrial automation increases efficiency, reduces costs and improves product quality. In the standalone 5G Campus network, these and other industrial use cases can be realized and benefit from higher control, reliability and innovative capabilities.
Overcoming challenges in the implementation of 5G campus networks
5G offers improved security measures over previous generations of networks. Yet enterprises must still ensure they implement a robust end-to-end security strategy from the endpoint to the application to counter threats such as data breaches, cyber-attacks and network outages. This can be achieved by implementing robust encryption techniques, firewalls, intrusion detection systems and regular security audits. In addition, working with experienced IT security experts can help identify and address potential vulnerabilities.
Companies should consider working with experts in the field of industrial applications and automation and 5G technology. They can provide valuable insight and advice to ensure that the rollout goes smoothly and efficiently.
Future prospects and potential of 5G for industrial automation
5G campus networks offer significant potential and promising future prospects for industrial automation. Faster and more reliable communication between machines, devices and systems enables more efficient and effective optimization of production processes. In this context, 5G offers the possibility of real-time data processing, which is essential for monitoring and controlling industrial processes.
5G will play a transformative role in industrial automation and fundamentally change the way we produce and work.
Opportunities that 5G opens up for industrial automation
One thing is certain: industrial automation can help companies improve their resource utilization and minimize downtime. In the process, they can benefit from cost efficiency and higher product quality. A standalone 5G campus network offers more control, reliability and communication speed, meeting the technical requirements for industrial automation technology. As a software and solution partner, we support you from licensing to implementation of your own 5G-based applications, including 5G campus network hardware, software and optional support.