5G Networks and SMEs

11/11/2020

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Manufacturing facilities worldwide are becoming increasingly digitalized, and in today’s fast-paced, interconnected business environment the need for a low-latency, broadband wireless digital network is beyond argument. Wi-Fi systems are dependent on connectivity. 5G promises stronger network reliability, faster downloads, and more connected devices. Even a small factory needs a lot of bandwidth to handle multiple signals and traffic types. Efficient real-time data exchange can mean the difference between a plant that is thriving and one that is just surviving.

A wireless network inside a factory might look like a solution waiting for a problem. This is not true. Workshops of all sizes can be extremely complex environments:

 

  • · People interact with the machines in sequential and predictable patterns.
  • · Many different types and models of machinery need to function in tandem.
  • · Processes and controls need to be continually monitored.

Let's assume that a small enterprise needs to have a real-time snapshot of its internal activities. How could this be achieved? Sensors on the machinery could track how many operations per hour are feasible. Workers with wearable devices could periodically send and receive data for augmented reality applications. 

All of this adds up to an example of what is called the Internet of things, whereby objects (tools, devices, domestic appliances, etc.) are connected to the Internet and communicate with each other and their users. A tremendous amount of data needs to be processed continually for this scenario to be viable. Most SMEs can't afford to build their own data centers. Lucky for them, there’s a solution. It’s called cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a technology that allows users to access servers remotely for large-scale data processing. While this technology is becoming more and more affordable, it still needs a network to reach its customers. Here is where 5G technology comes into play. Fifth-generation networks offer the promise of transferring vast amounts of data in what amounts to real-time. This means that a pair of smart glasses can communicate with (and receive data from) a server located anywhere in the world, helping the people wearing them to perform their day-to-day tasks. 

Affordable devices for optimizing 5G applications are in various stages of development, and the race is on for network upgrades. The manufacturing space appears to be very fertile ground for this technology to be adopted. Therefore, companies who hope to be competitive (SMEs included), need to begin planning right now, given that next-generation networks are currently being rolled out everywhere in the world. SMEs with expertise in service orchestration and network function virtualization like Cloudify and Gluware are poised to become key partners with larger tech and telecom players in the push towards full network slicing. For companies of all sizes, adopting 5G will mean shorter lead times, greater cost-reduction, and improved flexibility. Those who ignore its possibilities risk putting their business growth in jeopardy.  



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