When will 5G get here?

When will 5G get here?

Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” a new column from MxD.

Every week, Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.

Please submit your questions to debfromqa@mxdusa.org

Dear Deb: When will 5G become widely available in manufacturing?

You’ve probably seen the new smartphone commercials touting superfast 5G networks. It’s all terribly exciting — finally, I can hold high-resolution Zoom calls with no buffering while driving 75 mph on the interstate! 

Kidding, kidding!

Those commercials make it sound like 5G technology is finally here for everyone across America. Well, it is and it isn’t.

When it comes to the 5G that will power technological advances across manufacturing, that’s a little further into the future. 

First off, there’s no standard agreement as to what constitutes 5G. There are many variants of 5G technology, operating at different speeds and frequencies, and effective at different distances. (Some technology that claims to be 5G is, really, more like 4G+.)

The 5G that’s going to work for everyday consumers on their smartphones is not necessarily the right fit for manufacturers. There’s a host of infrastructure that needs to be in place (hardware, data lines) before 5G can be implemented effectively in a factory.

But make no mistake, 5G will transform manufacturing. 

As I described in a column a few months ago, 5G means lag time between instruction and implementation will go bye bye: Things that once took minutes will take milliseconds. So factories will be able to reconfigure quickly when production needs change, and real-time production data will be freaky fast. 

Industry is working hard on making 5G a reality ASAP.

Actually, my friends at MxD have 5G installed on their Future Factory Floor right now thanks to their partner AT&T.  The demo uses AT&T’s 5G network and video intelligence to monitor and automate operations like conveyor belt speed, production accuracy, equipment temperatures and inventory levels in real time. (Want to come see it? Email tony.papke@mxdusa.org to schedule a time.)

It’s a look at the future of manufacturing; that’s for sure.
But unlike what all of the smartphone commercials may have you believe, widespread 5G capabilities won’t be in place by Christmas. We’re talking more like several years down the road. Those who are prepared for it will stand to benefit most, so it’s a great time to start learning more.

Assuring quality,

Check out last week’s Ask Deb here:
I get one cyber hire. What should it be?

Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ‘em to debfromqa@mxdusa.org and she’ll answer as soon she’s done with her shift.