The world is evolving at a rapid pace and the demands and needs of consumers and clients are changing with it. In order for companies to address these shifts and start to reap the benefits for both the business and employees, they must transform to compete, scale and become more sustainable – and that is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced network solutions. 5G and edge computing can streamline operations and enable companies to leverage the data needed to make more informed and efficient decisions.
Many businesses are looking to the IoT to build better connections between assets and create greater efficiencies as a result. However, most of these connections aren’t necessarily being reported in real-time, creating many siloed views for an organisation of what is happening within their physical and virtual walls.
This is where solutions such as 5G and edge computing need to be brought in to join the dots and help businesses to get a comprehensive view of all assets and their current performance at any given moment in time. By connecting people and things using these technologies, businesses can get a holistic and transparent view of all things happening at once so they see inter-related systems and processes enabling the identification of greater efficiencies and productivity.
Take the transportation sector as an example. Despite their ongoing transformation, most airlines and railway companies don’t currently have a comprehensive view of all their assets. They may have a view of the aircraft or the train as a whole, but not necessarily in real-time and not in as much depth as is required. For airlines, the co-ordination of a turnaround therefore becomes very siloed.
There are typically ten departments (fuel, catering, cleaning, passenger, baggage, cargo, engineering, cabin crew, flight crew, push-back) that need to be coordinated by the dispatcher to achieve an on-time departure which, without real-time information, is a challenge. The implementation of these technologies would also increase employee productivity and reduce the health and safety risks as teams can track an employee’s vitals in a potentially dangerous workplace environment, such as a train track or factory, and set up alerts for accidents so they could immediately respond.
Once a business has managed to connect its employees and technology, it can begin to look for opportunities to use these connections to up-level operations. Here, the implementation of edge compute and 5G can help companies to safely scale their workforce by facilitating greater knowledge sharing and proactive monitoring their assets. This, in turn, will allow them to become more agile and adaptive to ever-changing business needs.
Sticking with airlines as our illustration, if the flight crew have a technical issue, they need to wait for an engineer to come to the aircraft, assess the issue and then fix it which usually causes a delay. But if you were to use the connectivity and low latency of 5G and edge computing, the engineer or broader technical team could remotely analyse and potentially resolve the technical issue without needing to physically travel to the aircraft location.
Connecting people and things and scaling that expertise is enabled by data transparency. Whether predicting issues by conducting analytics at the edge or speeding up time to insight – data is the fuel that allows this to happen.
Real-time data with predictive analytics can improve asset monitoring and maintenance across multiple industries. Integrating such analytics into asset operations solutions can provide real-time insights to the engineers on the ground into the operation and status of any equipment or machine so they can be alerted when faults are predicted.
By conducting the analytics at the edge, businesses can start to make connections that you might not otherwise have seen if they were pulling data in siloes and sending it to the cloud for the analysis, thus preventing real-time insights.
The good news is that the train is only just leaving the station when it comes to these technologies, so the time is still right for businesses to start building their roadmap and understanding what their use cases would be for the combination of these advanced technologies and other enablers.
These use cases are only going to get better and stronger over time as more 5G capabilities come online for businesses, so building the foundations for their own 5G networks now will allow them to keep up with the speed of change and evolve their processes alongside the evolution in the technology, rather than waiting and being left behind by early adopters.