5G in IoT Starts to Crystallize in Industrial IoT Market
“With 5G, there is almost no latency. It can really make a difference in manufacturing,” he said.
High speed and low latency will be transformational, Oakley continued. He noted they could address present-day production inefficiencies for expensive aeronautical components, such as jet engine turbine blades.
“In such setups, you often find 15% to 25% rework rates. Sometimes one piece may take a full day of work. There are vibrations as the milling happens that distort the final product,” he said.
With more powerful 5G networking, IoT vibration sensors and top-notch antennas, the feedback data from milling operations on blades could allow real-time corrections to compensate for vibration, Oakley said. That could save the manufacturer money, of course – but it could also fuel new generations of jet engine designs, powering planes far different than those familiar today.
Slice up the Bandwidth
Users of 5G networking will gain more say on how network services are divvied up. That is because 5G enables users to control the bandwidth and latency for different applications. This network slicing—where a physical network is split into multiple virtual networks, enabling optimal support for for different kinds of services and user groups—is 5G’s major advantage over 4G, according to Gareth Owen, associate research director at Counterpoint Research.
“Network slicing . . . allows users to customize operations for different applications in the same factory,” he said.
Overall, Owens noted, both 4G and 5G provide wireless connections that tend to replace “hardwired” connections of the past. These proved to severely limit the flexibility of application planners, in Owen’s and others’ view, and presented obstacles to new industrial approaches.
Despite its potential, 5G should be viewed as a part of ongoing improvement in bandwidth and latency, according to Simon Wardley, researcher at the Leading Edge Forum.
Wardley said greater 5G bandwidth will benefit advanced analytics, among other uses. But he cautioned that 5G architecture will evolve as system designers address a common challenge: how to balance centralized and decentralized computing approaches.
Neither will “win” out over the other, he said.
“Will there be a reworking of the equation to place more intelligence at the center as the transfer of huge amounts of data becomes possible, or a move to more intelligence at the edge as the network becomes swamped by new possibilities and new sources of data?” Wardley asked.
“It’ll be a bit of both,” he said, answering the question. “And before we can finally settle, then 6G will be upon us, and the equation will change again, with newfound constraints and limits.”
Wireless Age Redux
A brave new world on new industrial IoT use cases won’t appear overnight. “Although 5G is rolling out quickly, it is still early days,” Counterpoints’ Owen emphasized.
He is not alone. Other viewers caution that as 5G IoT technology rolls out, tests, and–ultimately –performs on the industrial stage in specific applications, the outcome is still to be learned.
So, important performance updates to existing wireless standards like Wi-Fi 6 and 4G LTE will continue to have roles to play in the near-term and longer.