For supply chains to keep up with increasing demand and the need for cost and resource savings, organizations are turning to 5G and private network solutions. 5G wireless technology will improve all aspects of the supply chain from manufacturing to inventory, fulfillment and delivery.
Manufacturing: Machine-to-machine communications are a staple in the manufacturing industry. Private 5G wireless technology will improve these machines’ flexibility and agility through its ability to carry more information at faster speeds. Devices will be able to stay completely in sync without any delay or lag. With the machine’s ability to increase precision, it will, in turn, increase productivity, reliability and safety.
Inventory: Traditional inventory management has always been time-consuming and labor-intensive, while fulfillment was at a halt. With real-time inventory trackers, fulfillment centers are better equipped to manage large quantities more accurately. By using software that can accurately count and relay information back to a centralized system, warehouses are able to get real-time data into exact inventory counts, product locations and run reporting tools.
Fulfillment: The entire world experienced a major shift in fulfillment technology when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and stay-at-home orders became routine. The increase in demand and limited capacity of fulfillment centers caused many suppliers to adopt warehouse robotics as a solution for the future. Warehouse robotics are actually not new to the industry but first started being developed and used in the early 1960’s in GM factories.
Delivery: Although we may be a few years away from seeing delivery automation used on a large scale, companies have been working to reduce delivery costs and improve logistics through remotely powered drone delivery, robotics, and autonomous vehicles. For a delivery driver or pilot to control and drive a drone from the fulfillment center, the community’s connection needs to be robust, fast and reliable.
Additional Benefits Private and Public 5G Networks will Bring to the Supply Chain
Reducing Power Resources: 5G speeds use less power than traditional 4G and LTE connections. A good analogy to describe how 5G uses less energy is when a person is on their phone loading a website, it may take up to a minute for the website to load. During that loading time their phone is working much harder and using more battery power. If that loading time were to be cut down to a second, it would reduce the additional strain on the phone’s battery, increasing the battery’s life before its next charge. Now take that analogy and apply it to multiple large-scale devices making these same types of connections all day. That speed translates to significant power-saving efforts.
Reliability: When looking at private enterprise networks versus Wi-Fi and what system is right for an organization’s unique manufacturing needs, it’s important to know the difference. Private wireless networks are proven to be more reliable through better signal penetration, fewer blind spots and ability to handle increased bandwidth. 5G networks also can handle more devices than traditional Wi-Fi or 4G networks, ensuring that communications never get jammed up or slow down. When it can be costly to second guess how much a network can handle or how quickly it can transmit data, there is no better solution than private enterprise networks.
Safety: By removing humans from specific functions on the factory floor, warehouses have significantly reduced the number of accidents. In addition to these machines performing some of the more difficult or dangerous tasks, operations are accompanied by sensors that can detect problems or interruptions and immediately shut down and alert the team on the floor when something malfunctions. This split-second reaction time is enough to stop accidents and potentially save lives. Manufacturing has historically been a dangerous job, and these solutions can significantly improve safety and working conditions.
What is Needed to Make These Networks Possible
In order for these IoT’s to flourish at their total capacity, a strong and secure private 5G network is essential. It is critical to work with communications experts who are experienced in developing private network solutions at scale. As technology continues to grow, so will the increase in data, devices and bandwidth needed to ensure seamless communication between devices. It is imperative that the networks being developed are done in a way that can be expanded upon in the future without interruption to the networks in place.
About Dan Leaf, CEO and president at Leaf Communications:
Dan Leaf is an Air Force veteran with over 22 years of experience in the communications industry. Over his career, Leaf has become an expert in wireless infrastructure, successfully building and managing companies that provide unparalleled service to their clients. Leaf has worked with Fortune 500 companies, fire marshals and all major carriers to provide small cell deployment, 5G integration, first-responder systems (ERRCS), site acquisition real-estate services, architecture and engineering, and complete project management and construction services. The broad range of functions that Leaf and his team provide are what give them a holistic approach and expert experience in wireless infrastructure and communication technology.