5G is here. The global pandemic reinforced the necessity of resilient and agile businesses. As a result, 77% of CEOs have accelerated their digital transformation plans. Luckily, smart, connected environments are no longer a promise of the future—they’re being built today.
From robotics operations to predictive line maintenance and integrated safety measures, manufacturers are effectively implementing next generation connectivity to compete, increase efficiencies, bolster the bottom line, and reap all the benefits of digital transformation.
Real dollars are at play here. According to Accenture, the combination of emerging, connected and smart technologies can save companies up to $16 billion. With these numbers, it’s clear that 5G technologies like private wireless networks are triggering a monumental shift in the manufacturing industry. Their fast speeds, flexibility and security open new connected opportunities for manufacturers that weren’t possible until now.
Here’s what manufacturers need to know about today’s connectivity trends, opportunities and challenges.
Private Networks: Your Network, Your Success
Experts estimate the cost of downtime is a total of $50 billion a year for manufacturers nationwide. Clearly, there’s huge room for improvement. A next generation connected environment can help.
To help mitigate preventable and costly downtime, seamless and secure connectivity is imperative. Resilient, digital-first business models automate operations, leverage IoT (Internet of Things), digitize processes to harness actionable data, and create safe, employee-focused environments. These solutions are key to reducing downtime and overhead costs.
Private, dedicated wireless networks give manufacturers the closed, secure and robust coverage they need, moving far beyond the same Wi-Fi network used for video conference calls or traditional cellular solutions. Gone are the days of running ethernet cables across every inch of a factory floor, machines being permanently immovable due to cabling limitations and relying on Wi-Fi to power bandwidth-hungry applications. With a private network, you’re in control of your network and your destiny. The converged digital network is flexible; built to grow with your evolving business needs.
Driving Business Forward: 5G-powered Use Cases
Private wireless networks can power critical 5G use cases to maximize efficiency and minimize disruption. Connected use cases for manufacturing include:
- Integrated safety and security management
- Equipment asset tracking and monitoring
- Connected utilities and environmental monitoring
- Logistics and supply chain management
- Autonomous vehicle and robotics operations
- Predictive line management and planned downtime
A private network is optimal for mission critical use cases as it provides manufacturers with an ultra-reliable, dedicated wireless network. Unlike a network running over Wi-Fi and shared by many users and applications, a Boingo Private Network can be configured with cellular technology to a manufacturer’s specific location needs, with total control, data insights and robust layers of security.
Designed to cover any area of a manufacturing facility, the dedicated bandwidth of a private network opens the door to connect more devices wirelessly—from IoT equipment and sensors to handheld consumer devices—without quality concerns when more devices are added.
To capitalize on digital transformation and increase profitability, a private network is the first step to lay the foundation for connected factories.
Network Security is Good Business
Security matters. Business processes are often propriety, customer data is confidential. From network access to permissions and data integrity, the system in place must have multiple layers of security and 24/7 monitoring.
Enter multi-access edge computing (MEC). Leveraging MEC brings network processing to the business venue, resulting in a myriad of benefits. With MEC, data stays on-site and does not need to leave the premises, resulting in more efficient, more secure data transport. MEC and cloud computing solutions can serve as the backbone for deployments by unifying management of existing public networks and new private networks. Furthermore, the highly secure data environment boasts:
- Super-charged processing power in near-real time
- Layered tools like asset tracking and video analytics
- Data process capabilities for artificial intelligence and machine learning
Paired with a Boingo Private Network that can run on cellular, MEC provides rich, actionable data insights and enhanced security.
Reduce Barriers to Entry with Fully Managed, Turnkey Solutions
Private networks are complex, but network-as-a-service (NaaS) models provide turnkey, cost-effective connectivity solutions. A NaaS model means the private network can be fully managed by an experienced network service provider. This allows manufacturing executives and IT teams to focus on what they do best - driving their own innovation and profits - not wasting downtime caused by an outdated network.
Digital transformation has arrived. Are you ready? We’re at the beginning of what’s possible for manufacturers in the 5G era. It’s an exciting time, but opportunity comes with challenges. Manufacturers can stay ahead by prioritizing connectivity and seeking the right experts who can ensure the technologies implemented today will propel your business for the future.
Michael J. Zeto III is a seasoned corporate executive and operator with a successful track record of leading high growth initiatives for emerging businesses. He currently serves as senior vice president, global strategy and emerging businesses at Boingo Wireless, where he is responsible for driving innovation across 5G, private networks, Wi-Fi 6, IoT and smart cities.