Businesses are excited about the advent of 5G, and there is good reason to be. A 5G network transforms organizations. It ensures faster communications to sensors and actuators, enabling smarter industrial machines and assets. On the other hand, it also means a vastly different world as we know it. It will enhance many industries, especially those that are under-served by today’s state-of-the-art wireless broadband networks.

Edge computing is a distributed computing framework that brings enterprise applications closer to data sources, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices or local edge servers. The movement toward low-latency networks and bringing computing to the edge in an integrated, hybrid cloud environment has the potential to radically change industry for the better.

5G and IoT converge to improve industry

From the device to the cell tower, 5G reduces latency to around 4ms as compared to 9ms for 4G. However, the-end-to end latency from the device to the cloud (or IT data center) can be as high as 100-250ms round trip. By itself, 5G only reduces end-to-end latency by about 2%. Edge computing (specifically, moving workloads to network edge locations in the network facilities) can reduce latency down to 10-20ms. So, it’s the combination of 5G and (network) edge computing that achieves significant latency reductions. This delivers not only rapid network response times but also brings cloud, AI and analytics to the edge. The convergence of these technologies and the heightened response times make industrial IoT truly viable.

Think cloud-assisted driving and instantaneous alerts that flag the critical condition of an industrial asset. Imagine real-time industrial applications that can leverage streaming video analytics on drones, or worker-to-worker augmented reality to make real-time decisions that improve production uptime. Think about the opportunity to update oil rigs, mines and manufacturing plants that have been around since long before fiber was introduced to these industries.

In these and many cases, 5G mobile private networks may be the only way to connect industrial machines and assets. Now imagine the impact this will have on reducing downtime and costs, as well as improving worker safety.

IBM Maximo transforms operations of today

Running on 5G private networks may seem like a new world, with machine-to-machine communications at 1-10 ms response times. However, there are already solutions designed to leverage this technology to deliver business value now. For example, IBM Maximo® Predict illuminates decisions about predicting and managing asset failure to reduce downtime. IBM Maximo Asset Monitor can help maintenance and operations leaders optimize operations with greater insights into what is causing failure – at enterprise scale.

With 5G, businesses in a broadband-isolated industrial environment can benefit from the AI and analytics of IBM Maximo when they couple wireless connected assets with a dedicated edge server that also runs Maximo.

Just like the value that autonomous industrial robots delivered to factories in the 20th century, 5G networks – and IBM Maximo – will bring together what was once considered future technologies to transform the operations of today.


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