In the words of author Sukant Ratnakar: “Our future success is directly proportional to our ability to understand, adopt and integrate new technology into our work.” While there are many who believe that technology is the engine behind driving progress, there are others who view these advancements are a sign of the end of humanity. 5G technology, while at its infancy from a widespread adoption perspective, just happens to be one of them.
Let’s demystify 5G technology, and explore its impacts to the manufacturing sector, with a special focus on the manufacturing safety.
The Basics of 5G Technology
5G technology, because it’s the fifth generation of wireless networking technology, can hyper-accelerate the speed of mobile phones to approximately 10 gigabits per second. To put it into context, this is more than 600X faster that today’s 4G-powered phones. On top of that, it serves as a catalyst to optimize the Internet of Things (IoT), which will have positive effects to any industry that leverages data.
The obvious question is what’s all the fuss about?
Current Concerns of the 5G Phenomenon
While there are solid arguments on both sides, here are some concerns:
- It can be a key contributor to causing health problems and environmental damage due to the high levels of radiation it emits.
- It uses high levels of energy and requires hundreds of thousands of wireless antennas to function (i.e. “small cell towers”).
- It will “add an extra layer — not replace — our current wireless technology.”
The Impacts to Manufacturing Safety
Of course, the impacts of this new technology will vary from industry to industry. Technology-focused industries, such as Internet-related services and telecommunications are expected to greatly benefit from it, with Google, T-Mobile and AT&T being early adopters.
5G technology also is expected to bring key improvements to driving safety in the manufacturing industry. This will be achieved by:
- Propelling “smart manufacturing” forward through the use of more advanced devices which are equipped with edge computing functionality. By providing real-time data and information, this will improve response times.
- Helping to drive “discrete manufacturing” via robust data reporting and analysis capabilities.
- Contributing to “predictive maintenance” by identifying equipment that would require repair or is deemed unsafe. This will help improve operational efficiency by reducing wait times and increase worker safety by ensuring they are working with safe and functional equipment.
Is 5G the future of technology? You be the judge!