Supply Chain Managers Will Benefit From 5G
5G wireless technology has already begun to roll out, and the anticipated effects are unprecedented!
For global supply chain managers, the implementation of 5G tech will unlock transparency, visibility, and efficiency for the entire logistics process from start to finish. Better still, 5G connectivity will introduce a new wave of applications and services that will enable higher productivity with significantly less loss.
5G means that logistics managers can finally provide consistent coverage, monitoring, reporting, and real-time analysis from beginning to end. If everything and everyone is connected, supply chain advancements become infinitely more possible—and probable.
What is 5G?
5G is the next level of wireless connection. Today’s top devices have LTE and 4G, and 5G is the step up from that. And a large step up at that. Unlike wireless upgrades in the past, 5G isn’t just promising faster and cleaner service. It will be 100x faster and support 100x more devices than 4G networks. It’s not just a wireless upgrade—it’s a wireless revolution.
For residential users, that means it won’t just be your phone and laptop connected to the cloud; your window blinds, your printer, your blender, your mirror, and nearly every device you use can sync up data with the cloud to provide a completely immersive, machine-driven world.
And for logistics managers? 5G will be the fuel for innovations never before imagined. Every aspect along the supply chain can become a part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Benefits of 5G:
- Accelerated data speeds
- Enhanced quality of connectivity
- Reduced latency and higher performance
- Lower frequency bands for better coverage in suburban and rural areas
- Higher frequency band for better coverage in urban areas
Applications of 5G for the Supply Chain
With 5G tech, essentially every device could be linked up to the cloud. It will enable a wider range of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that will streamline operations from start to finish.
Everything from product SKUs to warehouse robots to trucks to drones and beyond will send their data up into the cloud. This allows for real-time tracking and reporting, continuous feedback, better decision-making, and devices that automatically communicate with one another. For example, a picking/packing robot can alert the driver when a load is ready to be picked up.
These devices won’t just communicate. They’ll think. They’ll be able to figure out more efficient processes. Additionally, it allows them to pinpoint problems before they pose an issue. Artificial intelligence will be even smarter when these devices have access to even more data in the cloud.
Read: How AI and IoT Can Change Transportation Management
5G takes the idea of blockchain technology and amplifies it. Every part of the supply chain—from the product to the people to the devices and beyond—will be tracked in the cloud. There will be a seamless transition between warehouses, trucks, and customers with access to online data.
All of those moving parts of the supply chain will be stored in one place, so every stakeholder can take a look at what’s going on along the process. This level of transparency can radically improve efficiency and minimize loss along the way.
5G has so much more bandwidth and speed that it’s possible to connect every single unit to the inventory system. We won’t be tracking pallets or loads. We’ll be tracking individual SKUs with small microchips.
By scanning a sensor or identity tag, you can instantly get detailed knowledge about the product: what it is, where it is, and how it’s getting to the customer. This will make inventory management significantly easier, reduce losses and damages, and enhance customer service from purchase to delivery.
With high-speed connectivity and reduced latency, you get accurate, real-time data like never before. There’s a lot less lag time between when a sensor detects an event and it’s recognized by the system and read by a person. This level of connectivity enables faster decision-making that could make or break the logistics process.
For example, a refrigerated truck connected to 5G can alert to a change in temperature or humidity in seconds. For sensitive products, the difference in a few minutes could make the difference between successful delivery or total loss.
5G is everywhere—and it’s a lot faster. Tracking a truck in real-time is just the start of the possibilities. No more “jumping” trucks. You can see exactly where the load is at any point in time. Supply chain AI can heighten route optimization within seconds of a change while providing more accurate delivery information to customers.
5G will likely also bring with it newer, advanced planning algorithms to further optimize route planning and supply chain management.
Supply chain managers often deal with lost signals and insufficient coverage, especially in high-density or very low-density areas. This leads to serious bottlenecks that waste precious time and resources.
With this new connection tech, gone are the days of losing a load when the trucker drives into a rural part of the state. There will be no “off the grid” areas when everywhere has access to 5G connectivity. This allows for better inventory management, tracking and reporting, estimated time arrivals, route optimization in real-time, and driver safety.
Since all devices and vehicles are connected over the 5G network, it will be easier for drivers to communicate on the road. Whether they’re alerting to traffic or asking to switch loads, it’s fast and safe for drivers and dispatchers to get in touch.
5G will make autonomous vehicles a lot more omnipresent on the road. The trucks be even better drivers, and they’ll be highly connected to dispatchers for the most effective routing and loading processes. Sending an autonomous truck out on its own soon will just be a way of life.
5G is going to update our “floating infrastructure.” With enhanced sensor connectivity, we can send drones further and longer while still keeping them connected to “home.” All of the concerns of the FAA’s remote ID proposal for drones will likely be irrelevant (at least in part) when 5G rolls out. That means drones might even be able to do rural deliveries, since everywhere will be blanketed in 5G.
Warehouse pickers will have augmented reality that can send them to find the exact product they need. Robots will work 24/7 and tell dispatchers at home what’s going on with the inventory. The uses of this level of connectivity are endless.
We’re going to see a lot of enhancements to existing functionalities while introducing new applications that will make the supply chain more efficient.
Basically, connecting with 5G means a more transparent and omnichannel approach to logistics.
The future of 5G
5G tech is still in its infancy, and we don’t expect it to see a full rollout until 2025 or 2030. It’s such a radical advancement in wireless connectivity that it simply can’t happen overnight.
Although it seems far into the future, though, it’s time to start looking at a 5G strategy for your company. Some larger companies have even started creating their own 5G networks.
5G probably won’t completely alter the supply chain, but it could well be a revolution in logistics unlike we’ve seen since the industrial revolution. This new technology will birth advancements we can’t even conceive yet.
So it’s time to start considering and brainstorming what increased connectivity could do for your supply chain. It’s also time to start beefing up data infrastructure to ensure security, visibility, and accessibility before 5G is fully adopted.
How Optimized is Your Business for the Future?
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Check out our list of innovative services and personalized solutions to see some of the possibilities for the future of your business—with and without 5G technology.