The manufacturing sector is on a journey to digitalise and automate their facilities and operations. Connecting all their physical assets and employees with 4G or 5G is a critical step in this digitalisation journey.
Manufacturers are continuously looking to integrate and optimise both Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) assets for more efficient operations and better results. Over the last 18 to 24 months, this trend has been exacerbated with the increasing need for distributed teams to be able to collaborate remotely in real time, improve productivity, and maintain the normal order of business. Most manufacturing executives (71%) have seen their digital transformation initiatives continue or accelerate over the same period, and a new cohort of investment priorities have come to the fore.
To obtain these insights, ABI Research conducted two online surveys of manufacturing decision makers on behalf of Nokia concerning opinions of and plans for the introduction of digital transformation and, more specifically, private cellular networks inside their facilities.
The survey revealed a nuanced view of the pandemic’s impact on digital transformation in manufacturing facilities, with two-thirds viewing the pandemic as having a neutral or accelerating effect; suggesting that digitalisation is a key component both for keeping facilities running and optimising processes.
Private 4G and 5G can be foundational to supporting efforts to increase productivity and digital transformation use cases by providing bandwidth, coverage, and deterministic performance that exceeds the capabilities afforded by WiFi. Most manufacturing decision makers (82%) reported that networking infrastructure is a very important, if not essential part of their manufacturing operations.
Looking to the future
Over the next 2 years, the role of wireless networks in the digital transformation of manufacturing operations will move from being very important to essential. Without highly reliable wireless networking infrastructure, many of the applications and capabilities that manufacturers are investing in (cloud, cyber security, IIoT) as part of their Industry 4.0 strategies would not be possible.
A highly secure, reliable, and high-performance wireless infrastructure to connect all machines, people, and processes gives manufacturers the deep insights from the production line needed for more agile and proactive operations, including the ability to manage quality at any scale.
In 2022, the challenges for introducing a 4G or 5G network vary in their technical and ecosystem maturity. For 4G networks, they include obtaining budget, ensuring that sensitive production information does not fall into the wrong hands, and skills shortages. These challenges are more operational and reflect the maturing sentiment around 4G private wireless.
Manufacturers increasingly appreciate the benefits that digital transformation can provide that enable them to optimise processes for greater efficiency and increase their operational capacity and quality levels. A wireless network that delivers the performance necessary to support digital transformation is fast becoming essential to achieving these objectives.
Upcoming webinar on 5G
Join our webinar on 25th May, 10:00 CEST/ 9:00 BST, where ABI Research together with Nokia will share research and analysis following a targeted survey of more than 1,000+ manufacturers. The analysis will address important questions such as: When should I consider upgrading to 4G or 5G networking to support my critical operations control network? What are the top use cases where 4G/5G can help me in my digitalisation plans?
Join our webinar to hear:
- How the pandemic has impacted digital transformation plans
- Manufacturing industry top automation and connectivity investment areas in the near term
- 4G/5G and private networking opportunity and challenges
- Manufacturing industry 4G/5G deployments options