5G for Industry 4.0 Operational Technology Networks

Manufacturers, supply chain companies and other enterprises are increasingly looking at mobile networks to provide flexible enterprise grade industrial connectivity. Where once mobile networks were the domain of 'road warriors' these are now displacing wired and Wi-Fi networks as the connectivity of choice across the broad range of industrial use cases due to the ability to deliver an unrivalled balance of capacity, bandwidth, flexibility and security. Wi-Fi is well established within the enterprise IT network environment, but, for the operational technology network that delivers connectivity for the 24x7 production line, warehousing and logistics systems it is necessary to look instead to 5G to support digitisation across the wide range of manufacturing and supply chain use cases.

This paper explores the technical and operational differences between Wi-Fi and 4G/5G mobile networks and then reviews a broad range of manufacturing and supply chain-related use cases for the application of these connectivity options. It is hoped that manufacturing and supply chain companies reviewing technology options for Industry 4.0 will see that 5G networks, whether supplied by mobile network operators or standalone, provides the best choice for the Industry 4.0 operational technology network with support over a wide range of use cases. In time it is likely that manufacturing and supply chain companies will consolidate wireless networks and due to the advantages offered by 4G and 5G mobile networks it is expected that these will become the exclusive wireless technology in many manufacturing and supply chain enterprises.

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