5G technology is a new, advanced wireless communication system, which is slowly rolling out through 2019 and should become more readily available in 2020. 5G technology will reduce latency, improve network speeds, and lower power consumption. For the purposes of the supply chain—which is quickly moving towards wireless connectivity and the IoT—5G will improve all levels of supply chain management.
Better Network Management through Better Connectivity
5G technology is expected to be roughly 20 times faster than 4G technology. 5G will be both faster and more reliable than existing wireless services, thereby making it possible to expand networks and manage them more effectively. Networks will be able to send and receive data with lower latency at greater speeds, enabling them to leverage advanced technology with higher data requirements.
Notably, network management and alerting systems will be able to operate more effectively, sending information regarding potential issues such as broken down equipment, or inventory items that are no longer being tracked. All of this will be automated and scalable, possible through the improved speeds and connectivity of 5G.
Improved IoT Devices and 5G Connected Sensors
Internet-of-Things devices and sensors are being used throughout the supply chain and logistics industry as a way of tracking packages and equipment. With better data capacity, 5G IoT devices and sensors will be able to present even more information to be collected and analyzed. These devices can report on significant details of equipment, such as heat, humidity, and location.
Low Latency Tracking and Location for Inventory Management
Under a 5G network, inventory and supply chain technology will be able to be managed easily in real-time. With the low latency of 5G, inventory can be tracked and located quickly. Not only does this improve product retention and reduce loss, but it also means that advanced analytics can be used to track inventory and optimize routes. Further, suppliers will be able to easily furnish tracking and location information to those receiving the items, providing for better customer service and support.
Longer Battery Life and Lower Power Consumption
When it comes to many sensors and IoT devices, battery life and power consumption can be a limiting factor. While it is difficult to increase battery power (while still maintaining small, lightweight devices), battery power often controls how long information will be sent, and how much information can be sent. 5G technology uses less power, in part, because it can send more data faster. By using less power, it can facilitate longer use.
Better Logistics Services During Automation and Transportation
During the process of automation and transportation, inventory items, trucks, trailers, and other carrier services can easily be tracked, reporting a wide array of data ranging from the current status of the product (temperature, humidity, or even orientation) while also tracking its transportation (speed, direction, number of stops, and more).
Collecting large volumes of data through transportation is the first step of improving logistics services, and making a system automated makes it a scalable solution. When analyzed, this data will tell companies the best routes to transport inventory, as well as letting drivers identify potential issues that could damage the inventory. Increased data further leads to increased accountability.
The Future of the 5G Supply Chain
Today, supply chain technology and supply chain management already rely on wireless technologies. 5G technology will improve wireless connectivity by leaps and bounds, making it faster, more responsive, and more agile. This should improve all levels of logistical operation, especially as 5G becomes more accessible.
By improving speed, latency, and reliability, 5G will be able to improve the responsiveness and the transparency of the supply chain—and it's only a couple of years away. Of course, it still needs to be backed by the right business processes, software solutions, and hardware. Contact AFFLINK to find out whether your organization is 5G ready.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.