Unsurprisingly, updates regarding 5G and its capabilities have dominated the news within the connectivity sector. Any connectivity development drastically impacts various organizations across industries, and 5G promises to transform personal and industrial connectivity. Despite, or perhaps because of, the buzz surrounding it, 5G has achieved extremely high adoption rates within a short period. Statistics reveal that this growth trajectory will likely continue for the foreseeable future. By 2021, global 5G subscriptions will reach 236 million, and they are expected to grow to 3 billion by 2025. Much of 5 G’s intense growth can be attributed to its versatility and applications for personal and industrial connectivity.
What Is Industrial 5G?
5G (5th generation network) sets a new standard for global wireless connectivity. While it follows the four generations before, 5G is an entirely new network designed to create an interconnected web that includes devices, machines, and other objects. 5G specifications are set by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) to ensure its protocols meet industrial standards. The new network will transform how we use mobile devices in our personal lives and the industrial sectors. Industrial 5G is the term coined to capture the concept of 5G frameworks, architectures, and principles applied to industrial processes, systems, and devices.
Industrial 5G will give industries a common framework applicable to various sectors, including transportation, manufacturing, and logistics. 5G is already being used to develop smart interconnected factories that utilize predictive technology and create smart vehicles that utilize interlinked systems. As 5G evolves, it will increase efficiency and improve performance, connecting new industries and empowering industrial growth with new applications.
5G has three main building blocks, each serving unique use cases. These building blocks are eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband), URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications), and mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications). In the following sections, we will discuss them and their appliance in Industrial 5G in more depth.
5 Key Benefits of Industrial 5G
In addition to its various specific use cases within an industrial setting, 5G also has general benefits to the industrial sector. The five main benefits it provides include:
Improved speed of communications and reliability
One of the main advantages 5G has over its predecessors is its significantly increased speed due to its eMBB, or Enhanced Mobile Broadband. 5G is 10 to 100 times faster than 4G and even 4.5G networks. These advantages mean communication over 5G networks can occur in real-time without delay. This advantage is invaluable for industries that rely on timing, such as manufacturing, allowing decision-makers to respond in real time to data collected by IoT devices. Other examples include assisted work, where 5G can support service technicians with additional audiovisual information for service and maintenance, and Industrial Edge, where 5G enables smooth data exchange between edge devices and the cloud.
Additionally, 5G improves reliability through its URLLC or Ultra-Reliable Low Latency. URLLC enables ultra-high network reliability of more than 99.999% and very low latency (1 millisecond) for packet transmission. Manufacturers can benefit from URLLC to automate factory processes and achieve higher productivity and reliability. Some industrial examples of this use case include autonomous (the operation of automated guided vehicle systems (AGVs) in intralogistics) and Mobile equipment (communications-capable system components and mobile devices like industrial tablets, field PGs, RFID scanners).
Edge computing can also help you achieve low latency, as it shifts compute power from the core network and centralized cloud architecture and distributes it to the edge. Its goal is to lower the latency and improve performance for mission-critical applications.
Network reliability is critical to any industry and a core feature of 5G. No network can maintain regular operations when using an unreliable network, and avoiding disruptions are vital to prevent delays or negative impacts on production, delivery, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
Increased flexibility and scalability
5G was designed with professional systems in mind. With transparency, modularity, and open standards, manufacturers can now consider how they connect their plants. Its massive capabilities enable large manufacturers to rely on the network for operational purposes of many devices in high density (up to 1M devices in 1 square KM with high energy efficiency). Additionally, 5G provides large bandwidths, which allow enterprises to scale the number of connected devices quickly. The manufacturing process can be changed promptly, enabling a more flexible production setup ready to scale up or down as needed. Unlike 4G, primarily designed for public networks, 5G allows for private networks that can be used in production plants and provide complete control of the plant connectivity according to business needs.
Enablement of network slicing
Network slicing is an architecture that enables the use of several independent logical networks on the same physical infrastructure. Each slice acts as its network designed to fulfill the requirements set by a particular application. Looking back at the examples above, a plan can use the same physical infrastructure to provide URLLC applications, such as autonomous machines, and eMBB applications, such as Augmented Reality for service technicians. This way, each application meets its requirements but is still housed in the same infrastructure as the Plan’s other “networks.”
More Industrial automation
Although automation has already begun to take off with older networks, 5G will take automation to the next level, enabling intelligently automated yet interconnected industrial production—also known as Industry 4.0 and smart factory. Effective smart technology requires many sensors, allowing devices to adapt to their surroundings. These sensors take up vast amounts of bandwidth, but with 5G, the sensory input they collect can be transferred to the cloud, giving them access to unlimited computing capabilities. This exchange is only possible through a network that can provide high speeds and high volume with low latency, which the previous generations of networks couldn’t offer.
5G has the necessary speed, reliability, and volume to support a vast network of sensors and accelerate the capabilities and adoption of automated smart technology. High-speed wireless communication acts like a bridge between seamless yet scalable connectivity and machines, sensors, and users. Aside from being able to collect data from machines, 5G introduces the capability of machine control over robots, drones, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
While transitioning to and implementing 5G, security is especially essential when considering that the process involves migrating from networks to cloud centers and when looking at the larger scale of operations it enables. 5G was designed with security in mind, and many core properties (such as identity management and privacy) support safety.
Security challenges and solutions
Despite 5 G’s security capabilities, it isn’t immune to attacks across different network segments. These network segments can include user equipment, access network, core network, network connectivity, foreign network attacks, applications, and services. Some are even more relevant due to the distributed, open cloud-based nature of the 5G design. Moreover, the increased scale of connected devices in general and, specifically, the IoT devices, which are more vulnerable to attacks, improves the network’s attack surface. Security risks are higher, and additional 5G security measures are often necessary.
Implementing the right security tools and technologies is essential to ensure that none of your network devices are compromised and that they are all protected at a network level. You can keep your network safe through solutions like FirstPoint. FirstPoint combines all the capabilities of a connectivity management platform integrated with cybersecurity tools. These tools are designed to prevent and mitigate all kinds of cyberattacks that threaten 5G networks and industrial solutions that rely on 5G and include many IoT devices.
How to Streamline 5G Implementation
5 G’s advanced speed and reliability make it the perfect gateway toward further development and opportunities for industrial advancement. While managing large and widespread networks may prove challenging, platforms like FirstPoint, which provide a connectivity management platform, will be essential. These platforms simplify the management of complex IoT networks and consolidate security for all connected devices, ensuring that everything runs smoothly while maintaining the most robust level of security to protect devices against all types of network attacks. Request a demo today and see how FirstPoint can help you simplify the implementation and management of your 5G network.