Why 5G Fixed Wireless Access is the Secret to Unlocking Industry 4.0 – Supply and Demand Chain Executive

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Over the last decade, the manufacturing sector has undergone significant transformations driven by technological advancements, changing consumer demands, and global economic shifts. Most recently, we’ve seen the advent of Industry 4.0 brought on by manufacturers racing to upgrade to ‘smart factories’ for improved efficiency, productivity and continuity via cloud-based connectivity for all users and locations of a manufacturing operation. By upgrading and embracing new technologies, manufacturers can stay competitive amid shifts to optimize processes, improve quality and reduce costs.

As manufacturers become increasingly reliant on modern technology, it’s clear that connectivity really is the backbone of the industry. Maintaining a high-speed and dependable network stands as the cornerstone for adaptability and sustaining business operations amidst diverse economic, societal and geopolitical landscapes. Efficient data transmission is paramount for quick and secure communication. This not only helps keep production lines running smoothly, but it can also empower manufacturers to make timely, well-informed decisions. Moreover, seamless connectivity is indispensable when it comes to fostering effective communication with customers and other areas of the supply chain.

For manufacturers looking to enhance connectivity, there are several options, but one that is rising in popularity is 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA): a type of 5G technology that relies on radio waves to broadcast high-speed signals across vast distances instead of fiber optic cabling, reducing the number of infrastructural challenges related to traditional broadband access.

Better Than Broadband

One of the largest 5G use cases (following mobile broadband), FWA has started to garner attention across industries. It is estimated that service provider revenues from FWA worldwide of $27 billion in 2022 are projected to reach $67 billion by 2028. This is driven by increased consumer confidence as 5G and wireless promise improved reliability and resiliency.

At a high level, 5G FWA has the potential to transform business and offers several benefits compared to traditional wired broadband solutions. It delivers high-speed internet access with rapid deployment, improved accessibility, and guaranteed performance, all at an affordable price. What’s more, 5G FWA allows machines, devices, sensors and people to all communicate with each other, thus empowering better, faster, decision-making.

The Foundation of Industry 4.0

What makes 5G FWA particularly attractive for manufacturers and Industry 4.0? By delivering ultra-fast speeds, 5G FWA enables manufacturers to keep up with the ever-changing landscape, ensuring connectivity for all. This is a game-changer for the manufacturing industry, especially for plants and factories in particularly hard-to-reach, rural areas, where establishing wireline solutions for primary connectivity is challenging. Manufacturers can also benefit from features such as: 

  • Easy installation – Unlike traditional wired broadband infrastructure, which requires extensive cable laying and installation, 5G FWA can be deployed relatively quickly. This is especially beneficial in areas where laying cables may be impractical or cost-prohibitive, such as remote regions. 
  • Reliability and resilience – 5G networks are engineered to be highly reliable, with features such as network slicing and redundancy built in to ensure consistent performance, which is crucial for supporting mission-critical applications in Industry 4.0, such as remote monitoring for floor safety and preventive maintenance, control, robotics, and automation. And, by using a premises-based modem equipped with dual SIM cards, FWA service can be available across two operators’ footprints, allowing users to switch to the network providing the best performance at any given time. 
  • Lower infrastructure costs – Since 5G FWA does not require the extensive infrastructure investment associated with laying cables, it can be a more cost-effective solution for both providers and consumers. This is particularly beneficial for retrofitting existing manufacturing facilities with advanced connectivity capabilities, enabling companies to quickly adopt Industry 4.0 technologies without significant upfront investments.
  • Scalability – Industry 4.0 technologies often require scalable connectivity solutions to accommodate the growing number of connected devices and sensors in smart factories and industrial IoT ecosystems. 5G FWA networks can easily scale to support thousands of simultaneous connections, making them ideal for evolving industrial environments. 

5G FWA will revolutionize the manufacturing industry, supporting the vision of Industry 4.0 by providing high-speed, reliable, scalable and cost-effective connectivity solutions tailored to the needs of modern manufacturing and industrial environments.

Future-Proofing 5G FWA

Manufacturers around the world have faced serious challenges in recent years. Skills gaps, supply chain disruption, the increasing need for automation, along with the requirement for secure, high-performing networks to support manufacturing advancement, have manufacturers turning to technology, and external expert partners, to meet enterprise goals. 

But before manufacturing businesses can fully harness the potential of 5G FWA connectivity, several considerations must be addressed, particularly regarding implementation. First up is whether or not the business possesses the skills and technical know-how to ensure a smooth deployment – from integrating existing infrastructure and mitigating potential network congestion to managing costs and handling post-deployment operations efficiently. 

Secondly, manufacturers need experienced partners who can provide tailored solutions. These partners should offer a combination of global reach and local knowledge, catering to the unique requirements of each organization. With the right partner, businesses can also better track connectivity performance while maximizing their investments. By providing real-time reports starting from the activation of 5G FWA, a good partner can identify areas for improvement and maintain visibility over connectivity levels. As a result, businesses can quickly respond to changes, enhancing their flexibility and ensuring they consistently meet customer expectations.

With the advent of the next generation of connectivity solutions, 5G FWA stands at the forefront, ready to revolutionize the industry. When implemented and managed effectively, 5G FWA empowers manufacturing organizations to expand operations, maintain agility, ensure business continuity and ultimately, secure a competitive edge.         

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