Exploring the future of connectivity and 5G in UK manufacturing

Digital Catapult has launched research into the impact of 5G on the UK’s manufacturing sector, uncovering the potential of 5G technology for industry and setting out recommendations for 5G to tackle connectivity challenges. Real Wireless is credited in the report, after playing a key role in the Leadership Group.

Made in 5G draws on new research direct from the UK’s manufacturing industries and 5G technology providers, outlines the main challenges to 5G adoption by industry and sets out recommendations for the UK’s manufacturing industries and their supply chains.

An overwhelming majority of manufacturers surveyed for Made in 5G identified a lack of demonstrable return on investment (71%) as the main barrier to 5G adoption. Cost (56%), concerns around compatibility and interoperability of existing networks often due to problems with legacy solutions (20%), security concerns as manufacturers tend to prefer control over their own networks (32%), lack of understanding about 5G (42%), and cultural barriers to adoption such as skills (54%) were also identified as obstacles.

Innovation is crucial for the future of the UK’s manufacturing. 5G can address a wide range of use cases, from onsite processes to connected goods, and address concerns manufacturers have about cellular technologies for in-factory connectivity. It will also enable new business models and help manufacturers to deliver new services for their customers.

UK businesses can lead the world in the development of new applications and services to run on advanced digital networks. To achieve UK economic impact, innovation in 5G depends on access to infrastructure and expertise. The manufacturing sector needs to think proactively about the future of connectivity and 5G will play a crucial role in this growth journey. The potential of moving away from wired connectivity to 5G will increase mobility, flexibility and geographical range that could be game changing for many companies across the country.

Digital Catapult is removing barriers to market and supports the growth of 5G in a number of ways. The Made in 5G discussion paper builds upon Digital Catapult’s unique record of furthering the development and adoption of 5G in the UK, including projects such as the 5G Testbed in Brighton and the launch of the UK’s first 5G enabled Immersive Lab at The Landing in Manchester.

Real Wireless is pleased to have supported Digital Catapult in this research for some time, initially reporting on interviews with stakeholders related to the UK’s manufacturing industry and their views on the requirements for improved connectivity and whether there is a real need for 5G beyond existing solutions. This work, and its companion study into AR/VR, contributed to the “UK 5G Ecosystem” report from Digital Catapult released last summer. Our work with Digital Catapult also complements well our assessment of using 5G to deliver industrial services in the setting of Hamburg Port under the recently completed 5G-MoNArch project.