The role of 5G in shaping the future of industry

Overview

On March 19, the German Federal Network Agency finally launched an auction for 5G network frequencies. Industry in particular has been waiting longingly for the new mobile communications standard since it will enable major advances in autonomous driving and Industry 4.0.

Publish Date

25 MAR 2019

Author

Kai Beckmann

The role of 5G in shaping the future of industry  

On March 19, the German Federal Network Agency finally launched an auction for 5G network frequencies. Industry in particular has been waiting longingly for the new mobile communications standard since it will enable major advances in autonomous driving and Industry 4.0. For Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, too, 5G plays an important role on several levels. 

Faster, more powerful and more reliable 

The days of mobile data transfer solely for the purpose of making calls and surfing the Internet are long gone. The upcoming mobile communications standard 5G is far more than just a further development of 3G and LTE. 

5G of course also signifies a quantitative leap in data download speeds, which will reach up to 10 gigabits per second. More significant, however, are the extremely short latency times, i.e. how long it takes the network to respond to a request, as well as the availability and quality of the connection. 5G thus makes it possible to network end devices in real time with unprecedented reliability. And on top of all this, the new mobile communications standard requires only a fraction of the energy of its predecessors. 

5G is everywhere 

5G is poised to set new standards almost everywhere where data are transmitted, thus revolutionizing mobile surfing for private users through its high data transfer speeds. Think of high-resolution videos and data-intensive augmented reality applications. In terms of autonomous driving, too, 5G will play a central role due to its fast response times and high-quality connection, for instance when millions of cars on the roads all need to be connected to one another via the same network.   

Above all, however, 5G will provide Industry 4.0 with further momentum since the new, high-performance mobile communications standard will significantly accelerate the digital transformation in production. 5G promises tremendous leaps in networking robots, industrial machinery and household devices, i.e. the Internet of Things. As such, industry has high hopes that the new standard will massively boost efficiency. 

The central nervous system of Industry 4.0 

Owing primarily to the soaring number of interconnected devices and sensors, companies such as Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany need a scalable, high-performance and reliable data transfer network. 5G is one of the key technical prerequisites for smart factories, in which employees, machinery, customers, and suppliers are all fully connected. Like other companies, we have already started to digitalize our production processes. 

The idea behind smart factories is that in the future every process and piece of machinery will be digitally connected. In order to control and monitor digital production, sensors are required that continuously collect real-time data, whether on production processes or the status of individual machines and components. Only with 5G will it be possible to smoothly transfer these massive, heterogeneous quantities of data, effectively coordinate all machinery and immediately identify malfunctions in production. 

As well as the technical preconditions, the regulatory framework for 5G must also be quickly established. To do this, public and private sectors must work together. The clock is ticking: In terms of 5G, Germany is currently in the middle bracket, while other countries are considerably further ahead. The launch of the 5G auction in mid-March was an important first step in this regard. What is certain is that 5G will act as a turbo for the digitalization of industry and society and we should ignite it now, before others take the lead! 

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