Pressure Points: How will 5G change engineering?

Article Source: IMechE

Unlocking the internet

“The big impact on engineering will be the ability to unlock a plethora of Internet of Things devices that can capture and transmit data in real time to provide critical information and insights on asset performance. Artificial intelligence will provide deep insights to business operations and performance. 

“Productivity will be enhanced as people move onto higher-value activities and predictive asset management allows processes to be optimised to reduce cost and allow better deployment of operational resource. 

“The ability to operate equipment and machinery remotely will remove people from hazardous tasks and enable control centres to be established in areas that better suit the needs of the individual and the business.”

James Rowntree is vice-president of strategic consulting and digital solutions at Jacobs

Comprehensive impact

“5G has the potential to impact engineering from R&D through to manufacture. One of the most interesting use cases is allowing us to better instrument systems in real time and therefore optimise the development of new products and solutions. 

“One of the best examples of this is the AutoAir trial, hosted at Millbrook Proving Ground. By providing high-speed connectivity to vehicles using Millbrook’s test tracks, coupled with secure computing, vehicle manufacturers can gain access to realtime telemetry, previously only available to Formula One racing teams. 

“The Millbrook system is a private network, meaning that the data collected from the 5G system does not leave the site. The development of private 5G solutions will also have a major impact on manufacturing, where companies are often concerned about data security and integrity. When coupled with advanced sensing, computer vision and artificial intelligence, 5G is expected to enable a new level of operational efficiency.” 

Paul Beastall is head of strategy at Cambridge Consultants and a member of the advisory board and co-chair of the Testbeds and Trials Working Group, UK5G

Efficient toolset

“The arrival of 5G will allow engineers to play a new role as they will be able to carry out deeper analysis of a more widely accessible environment. Engineers will have to scan their world with a different eye: more data, more services – all this coming from a denser network. 5G will offer them a new efficient toolset.

“Being able to gather information coming from areas that are today separate, 5G will impact on the very essence of engineering as the provision of solutions – from an engineering perspective it will require a lot more expertise and high-level understanding. 

“The availability of smarter and wider functional responses as well as the increased diversity of their integration for multiple purposes represents both a great challenge and a great opportunity that require a change of the engineering paradigm.”

Guillaume Baral is a product manager at Nexans

Faster repsonse times

“With 5G deployment, both within and outside the factory, there will be better quality and noticeably faster response time, thanks to low latency. Not only this, but there will also be coverage outdoors as well. In fact, this is one area – bringing high bandwidth connectivity to mobile applications in areas that have spotty or no reception – where 5G is expected to be truly transformative to the services industry. Customers will be able to use applications in outdoor and/or remote locations such as electrical installations, water plants or solar installations, where they will be able to improve both day-to-day operations and field service visits. 

“Once 5G is rolled out, it will help a variety of industries, in particular those that use proximity-based devices. 

“But companies must not forget to get their regulatory team on board to help navigate various regional regulatory environments and their implications on the 5G value chain. Although the 5G landscape varies widely by country, the common thread is that 5G rollout takes a village.”

Martin Walder is vice-president of industrial automation at Schneider Electric

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