Industrie 4.0: experts want to start “5G avalanche”
Munich, 25 January 2022
Munich, 20 January 2022. The new 5G mobile communication standard is a key enabler of Industrie 4.0. However, small and medium-sized industrial enterprises in particular have been slow to adopt this technology because the anticipated costs are too high and the individual benefits are not well-known enough. This is the conclusion reached by a project group led by acatech Member Jürgen Fleischer of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). In the new acatech IMPULSE publication “5G in Industry”, the group’s experts discuss the need for a 5G avalanche, how to start it, and how to solve the problems associated with digital sovereignty.
For the last ten years or so, Germany has been at the forefront of Industrie 4.0. Now, the new 5G (fifth generation) mobile communication standard promises to take Industrie 4.0 to the next level. For example, the best way of remotely analysing an industrial robot’s real-time work status is with a virtual reality application – but an acceptable quality is only technically feasible with 5G. 5G also makes it easier to connect devices and machines and record and analyse their data with the aid of artificial intelligence.
According to acatech Member Jürgen Fleischer, head of the KIT Institute of Production Science (wbk) and co-editor of the acatech publication “5G in Industry”, “5G offers lower latency, larger data transfers and higher-precision geolocation than ever before. But because these benefits are currently not transparent enough, industrial enterprises are unable to develop appropriate use cases and assess their financial merits. That’s why we need to try and bring 5G providers and industrial application domains together in a targeted manner so that we can leverage this huge potential”.
In order to start a “5G avalanche” and promote the widespread introduction of this extremely useful technology, the project group is calling for the development of (flagship) use cases in conjunction with private industry. These use cases would provide a practical illustration of 5G’s concrete benefits.
Strengthening digital sovereignty with a standardised, open network architecture
5G will be a fundamental part of the communications infrastructure – and not just for German industry. 5G technology will provide the basis for a wide range of business models, for instance in the Platform-as-a-Service sector or in the development of big data analytics software. However, the infrastructure components for 5G are currently supplied by just a handful of producers: the three largest hardware manufacturers, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia, have a market share of over 75%.
As a result, the introduction of 5G inevitably raises questions about Germany’s and Europe’s digital sovereignty. The establishment of a standardised, open network architecture would help to prevent over-reliance on a small group of suppliers. By facilitating vertical compatibility between different hardware manufacturers, it would also strengthen access network security.
In view of the above, government must push 5G further up the policy agenda. The authors of the paper “5G in Industry” call on policymakers to enable the widest possible access to this technology using sovereign infrastructure.
About this IMPULSE publication
The acatech IMPULSE “5G in Industry” is the product of an acatech project led by Jürgen Fleischer and Albert Albers (both of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), Reiner Anderl (TU Darmstadt) and Jan Aurich (TU Kaiserslautern). The IMPULSE publication discusses the potential of 5G technology and possible barriers to its implementation, before going on to propose a series of policy options for science, industry and government. Experts from different industries were consulted during the course of the project in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of the extent to which 5G is currently implemented in product development and production in Germany.