Building a brighter future with 5G

Brendan O’Reilly, CTO, O2

The COVID-19 pandemic has put extraordinary pressure on almost every sector across Britain. The manufacturing industry has suffered particularly, with many manufacturers still operating at between 25% and 50% of normal levels. As the industry starts to get back on its feet, it is time to focus our attention on how we can use this as an opportunity to rebuild even stronger.

Technology, specifically private 5G networks, have the opportunity to play a critical role in the recovery of the manufacturing sector. At O2, we want to be part of this rebuilding process. That is why, through the DCMS-funded 5G-ENCODE project, we are helping to build a 5G-powered smart factory.

Working with partners including Zeetta Networks, Siemens and Toshiba, the project will create clear use cases that demonstrate the power of private mobile networks to help businesses build back better.

A key focus of the trials at 5G-ENCODE will be ‘network slicing’ in industrial settings. Network slicing gives manufacturers the capability to divide the private 5G network in line with demands of particular users and applications.

But what does this mean in reality? In short, it means that systems will operate more efficiently and resource allocated where it is needed rather than wasted. As a result, system output will improve and cost of ownership of assets will reduce.

Private mobile networks present one of the most exciting opportunities for UK industry. They deliver highly secure, ultra-reliable connectivity that allows for the automation of a number of business processes.

Not only does this dramatically enhance productivity, but the use of Automated Intelligence (AI) also makes workplaces safer by alerting workers to faults before they have a chance to become an issue.

At O2, we are invested in rebuilding Britain. A core part of this is finding new ways to use technology, specifically 5G, to drive efficiencies. That is why we continue to invest in projects and initiatives that explore exactly this.

For example, we recently set up a private 5G network for Northumbrian Water Group. The connectivity provided by the network meant that experienced technicians could remotely guide on-the-ground teams through complex tasks by relaying real-time infrastructure data and instructions. Not only did this dramatically improve communication within the business, it also boosted productivity.

Private mobile networks will be truly transformational for manufacturers. They offer a unique opportunity to build a more resilient, safer and environmentally friendly business. Interested in taking advantage of the latest 5G technologies? Get in touch to see how we could work together.