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Private 5G to Drive the Evolution of Smart Manufacturing

The private 5G market continues to expand supporting enterprises’ transformation and delivering benefits in areas such as security and real-time data insights.

Manufacturing is one of the leading verticals for private 5G, contributing 23% of all networks rollouts as of 2Q23 according to Omdia’s Private LTE and 5G Networks Tracker 2Q23.

Manufacturing is shaped by multiple trends including the need to increase the flexibility of production lines to create more personalized products, to increase yield to stay competitive in global markets, to improve the lifespan of devices thus reducing downtime, and to drive automation to improve safety and tackle expertise shortages. Private 5G is an ideal option for the sector as it can help enterprises to address all the needs and priorities of the sector.

Private 5G is well suited to deliver on the requirements of flexibility, security, reliability, and support for an ever-increasing number of devices and sensors without the high CAPEX cost associated with cable-based connectivity. In fact, according to the Omdia report Private LTE and 5G Network Enterprise Survey Insight 2022 – Drivers, Technologies, and Applications, manufacturing enterprises see 5G outperforming other connectivity options in reliability and quality of service (43%), security and privacy (40%), and scalability to support a large number of devices (35%).

Use cases served by private 5G in manufacturing: the early relevance of enhanced mobile broadband

Private 5G stands out as the foremost choice in connectivity technology when it comes to its application within manufacturing environments. Its exceptional performance and the ability to facilitate mobility across expansive and intricate RF environments, including partitioned spaces and multi-floor setups, make it a versatile and dependable option. QCT is delivering private 5G in manufacturing via its OmniPOD Private 5G solution powered by Intel® Xeon® processors and is currently counting 14 smart manufacturing deployments. For organizations ready to drive 5G networking to the next level, Intel Xeon Scalable processors boost network performance with an array of built-in hardware accelerators, new Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) instructions, and the Intel® Dynamic Load Balancer (Intel® DLB) that distributes network processing across multiple cores. Leveraging 5G enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) capabilities, QCT OmniPOD equipped with Intel Xeon Scalable processors can support multiple use cases, including autonomous mobile robots (AMR), quality inspection, robot surveillance, drone surveillance, mixed reality (MR) server assembling, and MR navigation.

Among other use cases, 5G can support machine vision used for safety inspection, for instance using cameras to ensure that the worker is complying with the safety guidelines in terms of outfit requirements, all without the need for a complex cable set up. It can also be used in a human-machine collaborative environment with the camera surrounding the machine with a virtual fence and generating alarms if a worker enters it. For these applications, QCT leverages 5G, whose uplink throughput and low latency enable AI inference to be conducted at the backend in order to perform the safety inspection at the network level rather than at the device level. This results in improved operational efficiencies, reduced device workloads, and reduced device cost thanks to the lowered requirement for computing capabilities.

Another key use case supported by private 5G is MR. In this case, MR devices connected to private 5G can be used to project electronic standard operating procedures (eSOP) to show virtual instructions for training new staff, or a step-by-step guide for a remote worker on an assembly line. The benefit for the enterprise is in the fact that MR shortens the learning curve for staff while allowing expert workers to focus on advanced tasks rather than training new staff. eSOP also decreases rework and error rates by providing instructions for staff on the production line. 5G enabling eSOP allows the factory to realize the production process for customization product with more efficiency and higher quality outcome.

Another case is the 5G connected AMR, which is used to deliver items according to its schedule and assignment. 5G also enables a millisecond handover thus enabling the AMR to continue its task without the need to stop when moving across access points. The 5G connected AMR can transport hazardous or valuable substances or products thus freeing time for the personnel to oversee or focus on other tasks. Additionally, the quality of 5G connectivity will still be secured even increasing the number of connected devices. This use case improves operational efficiency using a centralized architecture which reduces end-device workloads and costs.

The 5G robot dog is a mobile robot equipped with cameras and sensors to carry out surveillance tasks in dangerous areas such as chemical plants. QCT OmniPOD provides consistent handover and supports real-time remote control. Besides operational efficiency, this use case increases the health and safety of the personnel by reducing their exposure to dangerous areas.

Figure 1: Private 5G use cases for smart manufacturing


Source: QCT

Future enhancement: network slicing/URLLC/ positioning/time-sensitive networks

Looking at the future, the number of use cases that private 5G can support will continue to increase because of the flexibility of this technology. Enhancements on the horizon for 5G with rel-16, rel-17, and rel-18 include network slicing, uRLLC, high accuracy positioning, and time-sensitive networks. Network slicing, for instance will allow the enterprise to share the same 5G network to create multiple purpose of slices, each tuned with different parameters in areas such as data rate or packet delay budget. Each slice will support specific use cases and devices which could include massive IoT or low latency.

These enhancements will result in 5G having a higher use on the factory floor, enabling not only a flexible production line, but also across the whole supply chain and across sites that are difficult to access. Being a secure technology, it will ensure control and data security as well as the support of dispersed and decentralized expertise. 5G creates an entirely new network environment for to the manufacturing site. Its high quality and secure connectivity make the production site able to perform mission critical operations increasing automation thus driving higher efficiencies and yield outcome. Because of this private 5G is unveiling the new era to smart manufacturing.


Pablo Tomasi, Principal Analyst, Private Networks and Enterprise 5G

[email protected]

Omdia Commissioned Research

This piece of research was commissioned by QCT and Intel.

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QCT, the QCT logo, Rackgo, Quanta, and the Quanta logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Quanta Computer Inc.

Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the US and/or other countries.


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