In order to remain competitive, create better experiences and services, increase efficiency and even achieve sustainability goals, businesses need to become connected. This digital transformation can happen through connected devices and products or connected environments like industrial sites.
New opportunities and revenue streams are constantly emerging but to realize the possibilities and bring them to life, enterprises need connectivity that is global, reliable and secure. Internet of things (IoT) and cellular connectivity like 4G and 5G are making things possible that were impossible in the past.
5G a ‘catalyst’ for growth: The telecom industry is spurring the digitalization and growth across industries. The combination of 5G and digitalization creates new opportunities for telecom service providers to build and extend their businesses beyond connectivity. 5G being an innovation platform will enable telecom operators to tap into new revenue streams over time owing to industrial digitalization and enable operators optimize the cost per GB by a factor of 10.
Factories of the future: As the fastest and most reliable connectivity enabler, 5G will deliver an array of innovative use cases to increase factory capabilities and boost agility, freeing operations from wire-dependency. For the average factory, a large part of 5G’s wireless value will come from the fact that attaching cables to every machine and sensor in a factory just isn’t viable. This is where 5G will prove to be a game changer.
A wireless environment will also make processes smarter and less static, which is increasingly critical in today’s factories.
Tomorrow’s factory environments will see autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) operating on shop floors, fetching components, removing pieces of scrap, and freeing up workers for more important tasks by taking over less- critical work. Meanwhile, 5G-enabled facilities will benefit from sensors placed throughout, monitoring production processes and collecting data to feed back to machines and production managers. This will greatly enhance the speed of operations, improve maintenance capabilities and increase safety.
In fact, the extremely low latency and reliability of 5G will mean that, someday soon, many of the machines critical to future factories will become something like non-human colleagues, working closely and seamlessly alongside their human coworkers to assist them throughout their day-to-day processes.
Essentially, this means that the era of “collaborative robots” is just on the horizon. And from there, the possibilities will only increase. Our own 5G Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a global front runner in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The WEF awarded the site with prestigious Global Lighthouse designation to recognize the deployment of next-generation technology and its subsequent impact – including an impressive 2.2 times improved output per employee when compared to a similar site without the automation and 4IR improvements.
A research study we carried out together with KPMG reveals that a factory utilizing wireless communication has the potential to reap a value equal to an extra USD1 per square meter — every single day. Assuming a floor of 10,000 square meters (the smallest that can typically support a factory today), that means nearly USD4 million a year in added value. Monitoring production processes will be much smoother with 5G, improving maintenance capabilities and enabling any failures or problems to be rectified quicker
There are few other examples: Globe Tracker is changing food transportation and reducing food loss by using the global coverage that cellular technology provides. They’re now able to track and monitor a complex ecosystem of sensor-equipped containers at every stage of their journey, ensuring they arrive on time and in good condition.
Grundfos, the world’s largest pump manufacturer, uses cellular technology to optimize energy consumption and sell maintenance as a service. As a result of making their pumps intelligent, they’ve seen a 60% increase in energy efficiency.
Here is another example from the automobile sector. Audi needed a connected solution to help drive safer production processes in their factories. Ericsson collaborated with Audi and sensor manufacturer SICK to connect one of its German factories with 5G technology, creating seamless robot collaborations, greater efficiency, and enhanced productivity and safety. 5G brought flexibility improvements, enhanced connectivity, and a complete reimagining of what safe human-robot collaboration can look like; all on the same network.
In a recent report on Connected Ports, Ericsson in partnership with IFM, a global leader in sensor technologies, identified the most beneficial five use cases for smart port technologies – remote-controlled ship-to- shore cranes (STS); automated rubber tired gantry (RTG) cranes; automated guided vehicles; condition monitoring and drones for surveillance and deliveries.
The five use cases work best and generate the most RoI when powered by a 5G-ready private cellular network. It is estimated that four out of the five use cases should pay for themselves in approximately two years, with automated RTG cranes needing less than three. When deployed together, a complete payback can be achieved in less than two years.
Today, the mining industry struggles with a flattened profit margin and involves life-threatening risks for the personnel working in dangerous and extreme conditions. This can be addressed through automation and reducing dependency on manpower.
A case in point, automation has meant significantly lower costs for Boliden Aiti Mines, Sweden saving approximately 1% of its total annual costs. Carrying out drilling and blasting using automation enabled by mobile connectivity, rather than buying two more drill rigs, shows an annual EUR2.5 million net saving for the company.
The 5G impact
Cellular connectivity and a path to 5G will not only put the enterprises on a fast track to meet the demands of the new world but more importantly, it will contribute in the socio- economic development of India as seen in countries where it has been deployed.
Numerous existing and futuristic 5G use-cases can potentially bring a paradigm shift across enterprises helping them become more efficient, future- ready as well as sustainable.
On the enterprise front, in India, the healthcare industry represents the largest addressable market opportunity for digitalization, followed by manufacturing, energy, utilities, and automotive with the projected value of 5G-enabled digitalization revenues being approximately USD17 billion by 2030. It is time for the government to makes adequate spectrum available to the operators and help them unlock the next level of growth in the country.
- Nitin Bansal, Managing Director, India & Head-Networks, South East Asia, Oceania and India, Ericsson