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5G technology is here with us and is already causing a lot of discussions and eliciting reactions from different industries. 5G wireless connectivity is expected to bring benefits to the supply chain through many fronts that will make processes and operations faster, easier, and more efficient. To begin with, the Fifth Generation Wireless System (5G) is a successor of 4G and will employ signal wavelengths in ranges between 30 to 300 GHz to enhance the speed of data transfer and reduce the levels of interference and interruption.

With such high speeds and performance, the 5G networks will see improved speeds, reduced latency and at the same time allow a massive adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in digital infrastructure. About a million sensors can be accommodated by 5G wireless networks within a square kilometer with speeds greater than any other wireless network.

With high speeds that allow IoT to thrive, the supply chain will be among the leading beneficiaries of the new wireless technology. The adoption of this technology will enable supply chain companies to develop enhanced competency in operations therefore improving their services. With IoT technologies, supply chain management will be enhanced using identity chips, sensors, data analytics, cloud computing, and other communication devices all working together to realize automation, better decision making, and improved feedback.

5G allows millions of IoT devices to be connected in a global network which increases communication. 5G offers greater bandwidth with low latency and increased performance. This could offer a solution to problems experienced in 4G networks and Wi-Fi networks used in warehouses. It promises to provide universal coverage for large warehouses as opposed to dealing with several short-range wireless networks. With 5G, a very large warehouse area can be covered with a single wireless medium. It provides a secure environment and tackles privacy concerns.

The supply chain is known for its disparate systems which often cause issues. However, with the entry of 5G, the gap that exists between systems can be closed, leading to the real-time supply chain with complete visibility from manufacturing all the way to store shelves.

Reduced complexity is also expected to cut costs as it reduces complexities and hardwiring making installations easy and fast. It will increase workflows among the warehouse operators and shipping centers.


Apart from bridging the connectivity gap, 5G will also support future computing platforms. With  advanced computing, warehouses and supply chain companies will use 5G signals to develop networks that are centrally-controlled and can move data faster, enabling warehouses to reduce complexity and connectivity cost. Also with 5G, new video analytics capabilities will be spurred,  including real-time video capture of products shipped. Generally, 5G will act as an enabler of advanced warehousing as it eliminates old approaches and introduce new ones which in the end will be beneficial.

Warehouses are characterized by robots that can carry out various repetitive tasks augmenting work by humans.  With the addition of 5G into the equation, connectivity of these robots will be enhanced and so will their performance in the warehouse. Intelligent robots will easily communicate with each other due to the enhanced transmission of information which not only makes work fast but also safer. Technically, 5G will act as an enabler of communication and will link various warehousing and by extension supply chain architecture and resources.

The supply chain should prepare to embrace 5G rollout because it brings more goodies, especially those that will take advantage of IoT to improve on workflows and visibility in the supply chain. This technology will not only act as an enabler but will also increase potential in multiple aspects of the supply chain.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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