In a recent report, Forbes identified “The 9 biggest trends in manufacturing that companies should be ready for” and many of them revolve around 5G so let’s take a closer look at how it can help.

Here’s a summary of what the report says:

Data, AI and Industrial IoT

In the future, we will have increasingly interconnected Internet of Things (IoT) devices to collect data, and manufacturing companies can use this data to enhance their processes.

5G and Edge Computing

The fifth generation of mobile data network technology will enable manufacturers to easily connect their IoT technology, while Edge computing and private 5G networks will give them ultra-fast data speeds without the need for cables.

Predictive Maintenance

Manufacturing organizations will use sensor data to detect when a machine or part is likely to fail, so they take preventative action and maintain their equipment more effectively.

Digital Twins

In manufacturing, a digital twin could be used to create a virtual replica of the equipment on the factory floor, so workers can see how machinery operates under specified conditions. According to Boeing, it is their biggest driver of production efficiencies.

Extended Reality

Augmented and virtual reality will play an increasingly important part in manufacturing, including enhancing product design, improving production planning, complementing human abilities on assembly lines, and providing more immersive training.

Automation and Dark Factories

Dark factories are fully automated sites where production happens without direct human intervention. As robot technology advances, we will see more of these fully automated factories.

3D Printing and Additive Technology

With 3D printing technology, we can use fewer materials and produce less waste than we do with traditional manufacturing methods and drive a new era of personalisation.

Web3 and Blockchain Technology

With the emergence of Web3 and distributed computing technology like blockchains and NFTs, there will be opportunities for manufacturers to better monitor supply chains.

Smarter, more Sustainable production processes

Today, there are smart versions of everything, from vacuum cleaners to thermostats to toilets and customers increasingly gravitate towards products that are sustainable.

5G is key to driving these trends

All these trends rely on fast, responsive, wireless connectivity and powerful processing. 5G can meet all these requirements, connecting everything from sensors to visual devices and robots to powerful, scalable processing in the cloud or at the edge. Indeed, manufacturers are already installing private 5G networks to do just this.

As manufacturing moves from mass production to mass personalisation more flexible production facilities are needed, leading to small scale pop-up factories and the supporting supply chains. These factories of the future, so called Dark Factories, are manned not by humans, but by mobile robots that need wireless connectivity and hard “just in time” supply chain logistics to make them work. Managing and controlling this requires automation through a vast array of sensors and robots and a network that can deliver millions of connected devices, high speed, low latency and powerful processing, only 5G can do this.

Predictive Maintenance, Digital Twins and Extended Reality have similar requirements. These systems need to be able process large amounts of data, at speed, and accurately render and rapidly respond to changes in virtual elements. Only 5G networks can provide the performance and access necessary to do this.

So, the future of manufacturing is changing dramatically, but it is clear 5G networks and access to cloud computing are essential drivers of this new age. The age of “Mass Personalisation”.