The automation industry is already amazing. When you see the things achieved so far, you would believe it was a script from a sci-fi movie. With self-driving cars, security drones, and manufacturing industries with completely automated processes, you would be left wondering, can it get better?
Well, 5G is the new hype in the technology world, and believe it or not, things are bound to get even more exciting. If you are impressed by 4G speed, now try picturing 25 times faster than that. But at the same time, you may wonder, what has speed got to do with improving automation? Let’s start from the beginning before we answer that. First of all, we need to understand what 5G is.
What is 5G?
Beyond what we already know 5G to be (5th Generation mobile network) this is actually a major component of IoT. It enables interconnectivity as we have never experienced with a network redesigned to suit the new world we would like to enjoy. According to a research, there will be over 120 billion linked devices by 2030.
5G is the internet reinvented to bring technology dreams to reality. We are talking about self-driving cars with the ability to communicate with other autonomous cars and machines with internet connectivity. It is options for new experiences with low, medium, and high frequencies (something we have been denied for too long).
Most people know this 5th Generation network to mean faster internet speeds with the ability to download entire series in just seconds. Yes, this is true, but there’s a lot more we can achieve with this technology and many enterprises will be pleased when they finally see what it can do for automation.
How does Automation Will improve With 5G?
5G means faster internet speeds that we have never experienced before, we can then ask what can be achieved with faster internet which we do not already have. Well, here are some of the things automation will be able to achieve.
Wireless Robots That Consume Less Power and are Lighter
At the moment, bandwidth hinders the development of robots that are linked to cloud servers. Instead, software and hardware have to be installed within a robot or near it and then connect them using bulky wires. This is Programmable Logic Controllers or (PLC) which most manufacturing robots depend on.
With 5G however, the bandwidth is expected to exceed the demand so it will be possible to connect AI of the robots to the cloud without any wires. This makes the robots much easier to build at a fraction of the cost and the things that can be achieved may astound manufacturers.
These robots will consume less electricity, weigh less, and ensure more safety. Enterprises can look forward to less expensive automation with improved efficiency. According to predictions by PWC, we will see an increase of $15.7 trillion globally by 2022 as a result of enterprise automation.
Faster Report Generation
For businesses that depend on big data, there is a need to generate reports or documents using several sources. This usually affects the speed at which documents can be generated. With 5G however, there will be more sources of data from the different connected devices, and yet the needed information will be sourced, computed, and analyzed in a fraction of the time that we can do it right now.
Think of what that could mean for sales teams and marketers trying to make decisions guided by up to date and accurate data. Putting together a report may be just as fast as it would be to find out the president of any country using Google. 5G is theoretically able to download 10GB of data in a second, now imagine how fast automated software will be when tasked to source data and how many devices it would be able to go through to find the right information. As the technology improves, report or document generation may stop being perceived as a process and instead thought of as a single action.
Real-time Integration of AR, VR, and AI in Automation
Augmented and Virtual Reality have not been used yet to their full potential because they were limited by bandwidth. 5G could be the remedy for that as it enables an uninterrupted flow of communication across devices. One area where this would be much needed would be on the shop floor of manufacturing industries.
The paper and video manuals that factory workers use to perform complex repair and maintenance tasks can be replaced by Augmented reality where simulations can be carried out using instructions streamed over 5G networks that are high quality and do not stutter.
AR can help guide users through complex processes without the presence of engineers or other technical staff. AR and VR can be used to run different scenarios within the manufacturing process and receive results almost immediately so possible errors can be identified even before they happen. With the integration of the two realities and artificial intelligence, it is as if automated processes will be given the ability to predict the future.
Increased Device Interconnectivity
At the moment many large enterprises have a lot of automated machinery but they operate independently. The efficiency of a business would be increased if all these machines were interconnected. That is why a lot of work has been put in to improve IoT, however, bandwidth has been a major hindrance to smooth interconnectivity. With 5G, smart offices will be more efficient, there would be enough bandwidth to connect every device within a business as well as remote devices.
This can make working from home more efficient with few staff at the actual office and the majority able to do their work from anywhere with no connection interruptions. 5G promises a 24/7 connection so automation can carry on without downtime caused by a break in connection. However, this will depend on the infrastructure set up to support the system.
Imagine a manufacturing industry with security cameras that do more than just send live feed. The cameras would be able to monitor for any disturbance within the factory and if a threat is detected, the camera can dispatch a drone to investigate and remedy the disturbance without any human involvement. There would be no worry that the camera might fail to send the signal to the drone in time since connectivity is guaranteed.
Faster Decision Making
Machine learning and AI is intended to give machines the ability to make decisions. These decisions however depend on a pool of data sourced from different locations. Just like a scientist would have to read through different research to solve a problem, the machines need to have access to large data pools to work smarter. This is currently limited by connection speed, processing data, and then taking the right action is delayed so automation may not be deployed in certain situations especially life and death situations.
With 5G connectivity, however, large amounts of data can be processed in seconds and machines can send messages to other machines through the cloud so that where one cannot handle a situation, another will.
Automated surgery, law enforcement, cloud security, and even emergency rescue can become several times more reliable. Machines will have the ability to learn and act in real-time as different technologies are employed at the same time seamlessly.
Yes, 5G is about faster internet, but we are talking about speeds we have not experienced yet. While the infrastructure may be set up, or you may have a 5G phone, it will still take some time to experience the real difference it will make to our lives and our businesses. At the moment, machine learning is at its infancy stage but with faster internet, we can see its full potential.
Smart homes can get even smarter and we can move forward to have smart cities where cars, street lights, roads, and so many other devices can communicate to ensure flawless automation all around us within a safe environment.
It is important also to understand that science is not without its mistakes, we will see a few glitches here and there as we move closer to perfecting the automation process. We may already be impressed by some of the things automation achieves, but there is still more to come. A lot of innovation can be given superpower by introducing faster communication and processing.
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