McKinsey and Company: five ways 5G can change manufacturing

By Georgia Wilson
As global trends continue to drive the digitalisation of processes and operations, we take a look at the five ways 5G can change the manufacturing indus...

As global trends continue to drive the digitalisation of processes and operations, we take a look at the five ways 5G can change the manufacturing industry.

The development of 5G connectivity, which is said to be 25 times faster than 4G networks, with lagging reduced to almost zero, is predicted to provide endless opportunities to drive digitalisation and connectivity along the entire value chain for factories.

McKinsey and Company, details the five applications that deserve attention in order to boost factory productivity with the help of 5G:

  1. Cloud control of machines

For many years, automation within factories relies on the physical installation of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) on the technology they control, which is then hard-wired into computer networks.

With the predicted 5G capabilities, manufacturers could make their PLCs virtual and take them into the cloud. As a result machines can be wirelessly controlled in real-time at a reduced cost.

  1. Augmented reality

With the industry often required to perform complex maintenance and control tasks which are guided by standard operating procedures (SOPs) which come in the form of paper manuals, video and augmented reality.

With 5G, organisations can improve their streaming capabilities of these resources, this could provide the capability for workers to undertake advanced tasks without needing to wait for a specialist. As a result this will reduce downtime and cost.


  1. Perceptive artificially intelligent eyes

Cameras - a common technology within a factory for progress monitoring and security, however currently their use is limited.

5G will allow real-time streaming of data that can be hosted within the cloud, as well as provide live video analytics. 

  1. High speed decisions

To drive the best operations within a factory, manufacturers rely on vast data pools to make operational decisions. 

With the adoption of 5G, factories can significantly speed up the decision making time. The improved connectivity will allow large amounts of data to be ingested, processed and actioned in near real time.

  1. Internet of things (IoT)

As factories produce more and more data WiFi networks can get quickly congested, 5G connectivity can support high connection density with tens of thousands of endpoints. As a result factories can use industrial data at scale.

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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