5G in the manufacturing sector

5G will become a crucial enabler for digital transformation in the manufacturing sector.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor

5G and Industry 4.0 form a very powerful combination. Together, they can lift and shift the manufacturing sector to a much higher level of digitization, by maximizing the mobility, flexibility, and versatility of production.

5G in the industrial manufacturing context offers opportunities beyond factory automation, as it also covers process automation, human/machine interfaces, logistics, warehousing, monitoring, and maintenance:

  • 5G is a catalyst for automation and process optimization in the industry. Industry 4.0 will become a major focus area for 5G. Beyond improvements for the direct production of goods, 5G-enabled infrastructure will support production planning and supply chain logistics.
  • Nonpublic 5G networks offer new opportunities for smart factories. Nonpublic 5G networks improve privacy, data security, compliance, and cellular network performance for dedicated user groups.
  • However, it's still too early for industry to deploy 5G for all the potential use cases. While many industry use cases depend on super-low latency, ultra-reliable low latency is not yet a supported feature of 5G. It will take at least until 2021 to become commercially available on a wider scale.

It's too early to get carried away with the hype regarding all potential 5G usage scenarios in the manufacturing sector. The biggest overall challenge for 5G in manufacturing will be to demonstrate a clear return on 5G investments. Existing wireless technologies satisfy most use cases in manufacturing today.

It is far from clear how many use cases that absolutely require 5G features will emerge and what the ROI of 5G will look like. The report "The CIO's Guide To 5G In The Manufacturing Sector" helps CIOs to evaluate and prepare for the real potential of 5G in the manufacturing sector.

For additional information on the dynamics of 5G, register for a series of Forrester webinars on the issues defining the emergence of 5G. 

Principal Analyst Dan Bieler wrote this blog, and it originally appeared here.

Editorial standards