5G and the impact on manufacturing

Learn how the benefits of a next-generation network are poised to revolutionize the factory floor.

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With 5G helping to usher in a Fourth Industrial Revolution, the benefits of a next-generation network are anticipated to register strongly on the factory floor. Just as the refinement of mechanical processes led eventually to the assembly line, the combination of 5G and manufacturing has the potential to bring about another radical breakthrough. 

Verizon and its innovation partners have been hard at work creating the factory of the future, and central to that mission is Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband. The high bandwidth, ultra-fast speeds and ultra-low latency of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband have the potential to increase factory automation, improve quality assurance and enable supply chain tracking in near-real time. The potential benefits? Smarter, more efficient operations, safer conditions for workers and higher-quality products — along with all-new conveniences for consumers.

Discover the impact that Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband could have on manufacturing.

1. The 5G impact on intelligent automation

With 5G enabling advancements in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), factory equipment could potentially interface with workers and systems like never before. As industrial robots use 5G to become more task-intelligent, factories could replace inexact, time-consuming manual procedures with more precise, efficient digitized processes. Last year, Verizon 5G Labs co-sponsored the Verizon 5G Robotics Challenge, which broke new ground on no-code robotic reprogramming. Ultimately, with 5G-enabled technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), the benefits of intelligent automation could be felt at every step, from production to inventory management to warehouse logistics.

2. The 5G impact on quality assurance

The 5G factory of the future must not only work harder, but smarter. Vast sensor networks and 5G-connected cameras could provide factory workers with unprecedented levels of actionable intelligence, the kind that can prevent product defects and design inconsistencies, while preserving quality and safety standards. With Verizon 5G and mobile edge compute (MEC), massive amounts of data could be analyzed in near-real time, potentially enabling new methods of AI-driven inspection and testing, minimizing human error, increasing productivity, saving money and ensuring consumers receive higher-quality products.

3. The 5G impact on supply chain tracking

The benefits of 5G-powered sensor and camera technology isn’t likely to be felt only during production runs. From shipment to stocking, 5G could mean a vastly improved chain of custody, so manufacturers maintain closer tabs on their products throughout their journey. By knowing more about the location and condition of these products at every waypoint—not to mention vital information pertaining to shipping and climate considerations, across an entire network, in near-real time—manufacturers could reduce loss, minimize theft and fraud, anticipate stockouts and respond to fluctuations in demand.

4. The 5G impact on AGV functionality

Navigating a busy factory floor can pose a number of dangers to workers. Armed with 5G, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) could maintain constant sensor contact with their surroundings, adding precision to the path and potentially reducing the likelihood of accidents and product damage. Harnessing augmented and virtual reality—technologies whose full viability will depend on the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G—workers could even guide machinery from remote locations. And similar to AGVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, could find increased utility in manufacturing settings, as 5G-powered computer vision enables them to gather and transmit product information “on the fly,” in near-real time. 

5. The 5G impact on worker safety

Though increased automation may change how humans and machines interact, 5G is anticipated to play an increasingly important role in making manufacturing environments safer. Combined with MEC, 5G could enable industrial robots to shrink, as complex compute functions are offloaded to nearby servers — and with minimal impact on responsiveness. Removing clunky processors and large batteries also could make once-cumbersome machines easier to manipulate, reducing bodily risk when factory floors require reconfiguration. What’s more, 5G could enable all-new types of AI-driven solutions for preventative robot maintenance, machine learning techniques for safer floor layouts and sensor technology that warns when workers drift into potentially dangerous situations.

Learn more about how Verizon and Corning are powering new manufacturing breakthroughs with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband.

More from this series: 5G, five impacts: Healthcare.

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