One of the main differences between 5G and previous generations of cellular networks lies in 5G’s strong focus on machine-type communication and the Internet of Things (IoT). The capabilities of 5G thus extend far beyond mobile broadband with ever increasing data rates. In particular, 5G supports communication with unprecedented reliability and very low latencies, as well as massive IoT connectivity. This paves the way for the next era in industrial production, known as “Industry 4.0”, which aims to significantly improve the flexibility, versatility, usability and efficiency of future smart factories. Industry 4.0 integrates the IoT and related services in industrial manufacturing, and delivers seamless vertical and horizontal integration down the entire value chain and across all layers of the automation pyramid. Connectivity is a key component of Industry 4.0 and will support the ongoing developments by providing powerful and pervasive connectivity between machines, people and objects.
5G has the potential to provide (wireless) connectivity for a wide range of different use cases and applications in industry. In the long-term, it may actually lead to convergence of the many different communication technologies that are in use today, thus significantly reducing the number of relevant industrial connectivity solutions. Just as there is an ongoing trend towards Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) for established (wired) Industrial Ethernet solutions, 5G is likely to become the standard wireless technology of choice, as it may for the first time enable direct and seamless wireless communication from the field level to the cloud.