5G offers endless potential for global enterprise and the supply chain. As it currently stands, businesses are facing considerable challenges in the supply chain due to ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions caused by climate change. There is increasing pressure on suppliers to adapt to these challenges and improve operational efficiency. With the game-changing capabilities of 5G, suppliers will see increased productivity, visibility, and access to unprecedented speeds that will improve daily operations.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks and the successor to 4G. It was first introduced in 2019 and builds on the advancements that were established for 4G networks to offer faster speeds and lower latency. Theoretically, 5G can reach speeds of up to 1gbps (billions of bits per second) which is 100 times faster than speeds on 4G networks. Information can also be sent and received much faster on 5G networks which can offer latency as low as 1 millisecond.
The UK is considered to be a world leader when it comes to the deployment of 5G. 77% of the UK population now have access to 5G networks and all major networks in the UK offer 5G connectivity. In April 2023, the UK government announced plans to invest £40 million into 5G technology to boost digital connectivity as part of its Wireless Infrastructure Strategy. The government aims to have 100% of standalone 5G coverage for all populated areas in the UK by 2030.
With standalone coverage, 5G will be able to realise its full potential, although this could take a while to achieve. However, even in this early phase, it still holds considerable advantages over 4G. Internet speed on 5G networks averages between 150 Mbps to 250Mbps, the highest speed available on 4G networks 36Mpbs. Latency is as low as 17 milliseconds on 5G networks compared to 36 milliseconds on 4G networks. In its current state, 5G is a crucial tool to navigate challenges facing the supply chain.
The Potential of 5G in the Supply Chain
The most crucial component in building and maintaining supply chain resiliency is ensuring that end-to-end visibility is in place for inventory. 5G networks can offer true traceability of stock and enhance operational efficiency.
5G allows suppliers to take inventory management to the next level thanks to its compatibility with the Internet of Things. With 5G-enabled IoT in place, suppliers can access real-time updates where any given product is in a warehouse. That data can then be accessed from a remote management system to gain a single point of view of the whole inventory. This can include the exact location of the product in the supply chain and with improved geolocation technology managers can monitor external factors like temperature and other environmental factors that could cause disruption.
Users can also benefit from substantially increased density on 5G networks and can connect with a million devices per square mile compared to 4G which can only connect to 10,000 devices per square mile. This means more IoT devices can be introduced to warehouses to provide visibility of stock levels and product locations. Data rates are also 100x higher on 5G networks and end-to-end latency is reduced by five times. This means that managers can constantly monitor the supply chain through continuous data which will allow them to quickly adapt to any potential delays or risks to the chain.
The biggest selling point of 5G for the supply chain is arguably its capabilities for network slicing. It provides the ability to slice a network so that multiple unique networks can be used on top of the common physical infrastructure. Each individual network can be tailored to meet the needs of a business, meaning that a dedicated slice of a 5G network can be built around inventory and supply chain management exclusively in order to deliver optimal results and maximise operational efficiency.
StockAssist with 5G Capability
Earlier this year, we were able to establish a successful connection to a private 5G network with our GS1 approved solution, StockAssist. We are now able to offer our inventory management solutions to our customers who have implemented a 5G network in their workspace via a fast and secure connection. Customers can enjoy improved bandwidth, higher capacity, and lower latency.
StockAssist Industrial offers a streamlined approach to managing inventory, helping you to improve efficiencies, productivity, and stock traceability across all storage locations.