What 5G Could Mean for the Supply Chain
Supply chain and logistics managers need to know what’s coming with the implementation and use of 5G technology. This change is coming quickly, so it’s essential to ensure you are listening, learning, and strategizing your organization’s relationship with the 5G movement so you don’t get left behind.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth-generation mobile network. It’s a new, global wireless standard that follows the most recent and widely accepted technology, 4G. The next generation enables a new kind of network to virtually connect everyone and everything, including machines, objects, and devices.
The key difference with 5G is that it was designed to deliver high multi-Gbps peak data speeds with ultra-low latency, increased reliability, massive networking capacity, and increased availability for users. The latest iteration in wireless service will improve efficiency and connect news industries to create a more connected world.
What are the benefits?
In addition to efficiency and the goals above, here are a few reasons 5G might help businesses and industries improve their performance and extend reach and connectivity.
5G benefits include:
Transformation from physical to digital connectivity
Faster data speeds
Enhanced connectivity quality
Better and wider coverage
Improved slicing (when the cellular signal is divided between systems or devices)
Deployed at a lower cost
Who will benefit from and use 5G?
Although consumers and businesses alike will benefit from installing and implementing 5G networks, there are a few ways 5G will change the landscape to help businesses and improve supply chain efficiency and management.
5G will be used for:
Internet of Things (IoT): These devices are ‘smart’ and connected, which will result in increased communication between devices. We’ll see new insights offered in ways that weren’t provided by previous technology.
Transparency: Since transactions and interactions will be tracked and recorded in the cloud, there will be a seamless transition and access to real-time data between everyone in the supply chain.
Operational efficiency: With digital connectivity, more product tracking and monitoring will be possible. With diminished latency, sensors and devices will be more responsive and capable, resulting in more timely and accurate real-time data (which will continue to improve over time).
Tracking and tracing: With the opportunities 5G offers, there will be better, smaller devices at increasingly lower costs, which will increase visibility into shipment and tracking with ease, making the process quicker and more effectively monitored. Temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors will also be viewed and managed digitally.
Product monitoring and smarter inventory: Slicing allows bandwidth to be divided across devices without requiring lots of capacity. Therefore, an organization can monitor at the SKU-level and receive more detailed information for product condition and location and accurately forecast the ETA.
Eliminate off-the-grid areas: Creating more widespread coverage will result in better tracking and reporting, route optimization in real-time, and driver safety, since it will be easier and faster for drivers to communicate on the road.
Quicker delivery: Remember when we thought drone delivery seemed crazy? It’s happening and will continue to expand. Get ready for immediate deliveries.
When it comes to supply chain professionals, 5G may also make the following possible:
Tracking items the size of microchips
Augmented reality to guide warehouse staff
Outbound shipment planning with a seamless transition for orders still in transit
Devices that communicate and think smarter with increased and improved use of artificial intelligence (AI)
Autonomous vehicles as a part of internal and external fleets
What this means…
As we take a peek into the future, 5G is a high priority and a driving force that supply chain professionals must factor into business operations now. Flexible and agile supply chains that consider 5G in business planning will have a better chance of capturing the 5G movement benefits and thrive in the new environment.
Start exploring 5G now, and don’t let your business get left behind.