1660240104529 Bacidore

Factories stick with 5G plans

Feb. 1, 2021
Industry 4.0 efforts remain on track, despite pandemic, survey says

Remote operations/control, optimized supply-chain innovations and enhanced control, both time-critical and non-time-critical, are part of the focus that companies are maintaining in their Industry 4.0 efforts, despite the limitations of the global pandemic.

While all of these activities are deemed important by organizations, supply-chain improvement is receiving the highest attention, according to survey results released by ARC Advisory Group and Wind River. So many restrictions have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting transportation and human interaction and exposing many vulnerabilities.

In collaboration with ARC Advisory Group, Wind River surveyed more than 450 manufacturing leaders at the height of pandemic disruptions due to COVID-19. The results of the survey demonstrated that Industry 4.0 initiatives are alive and well, with specific focus on improvements and innovations in supply-chain management and support for remote operations.

5G wireless telecommunications, edge computing and Wi-Fi 6 networks were expected to be popular technology initiatives in 2020, until many plants struggled to remain open and productive. Very few factories had experience with 5G, but an overwhelming majority of survey respondents had expected to be using 5G within the next five years. And North American respondents were even more positive about future 5G deployments than Europeans.

Confidence, cost, and complexity were all perceived barriers to industrial 5G deployment, with confidence being the most frequently cited.

Also read: What will 5G do for you?

With respect to 5G adoption, manufacturers see 5G as a sea change, not just in raw network performance but also in the capabilities and qualities of services that can be delivered through cellular infrastructure, according to the survey. Turning that enthusiasm into adoption means communications service providers (CSPs) must understand and appreciate the requirements that new and more critical applications within the factory or plant will impose on networks and on business relationships with manufacturing customers, according to the report of the survey results, ARC Research Director Harry Forbes.

Based on the research and analysis, the report recommends that:

  • manufacturers should evaluate the lifecycle costs of 5G infrastructure with a view to its new properties and capabilities
  • manufacturers should expect CSPs to understand the risks of critical manufacturing applications and design service level agreements to reflect and share in bearing these risks.
  • CSPs should learn which applications their industrial customers plan for 5G and appreciate the levels of criticality of these apps to their industrial operations.

As plants prepare for renewed operations, now could be the time to make certain 5G is in the future.

About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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