The impact of 5G: How will 5G affect supply chain & logistics?

Supply chain and logistics involve a lot of moving parts – and keeping track of every individual item and getting them securely from A to B is an art form that often goes unappreciated.

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This is the last part of a three-part series covering the next generation 5G mobile network. How will increased speed, capacity and reliability change the world around us? We ask Patrick Waldemar, VP and head of technology at Telenor Research, for his insight.

Part one: What is 5G and what does it mean for our society?

Part two: How will 5G affect the automotive industry and mobility?

At Wallenius Wilhelmsen, we’re constantly trying to optimise our processes and employ the latest technology. Lately we have been focusing on the potential impact of the next mobile network generation, 5G, and how it will enable new possibilities for manufacturing, supply chain and consumers.

We have been lucky enough to have Patrick Waldemar, VP and head of technology at Telenor Research, tell us more about how 5G will transform many aspects of society and the way we do business.

The Internet of Things… and cargo!

You may have heard the term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). The IoT means that, rather than just connecting people, the Internet will also connect almost everything we own. To enable a future with thousands of interconnected objects – in your home, at your workplace and on the road – we need a new mobile technology able to handle all this connectivity and data.

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), which has already been launched in several markets, is the first step in this direction and 5G IoT solutions will give further improvements. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a new technology using the existing 4G network – it’s energy efficient and offers high security and long range.

The future 5G solution has specifications that outperform our current 4G mobile network in several ways. Huge improvements in capacity for device density, transfer speeds and reduced latency – along with a 90% reduction in power consumption – are just some of the ambitions for 5G.

In just a few years, Patrick says, the price of 5G-connected sensors will be so low and the availability so high that everything can be connected without worrying about losing the sensors. The low power consumption of IoT devices also enables a long lifetime without the need for replacements.

When everything is labelled, tracked and recorded automatically, gone will be the days of lost cargo, misplaced containers, and losses due to manual inefficiencies and labour. Furthermore, creating transparent and optimised supply chains will be enabled by always-on technology that should allow for time and cost savings.

Full accountability with better tracking

Cargo usually changes hands during transportation and temporary or permanent storage, thus posing a problem of responsibility, ownership and insurance in the supply chain. If the transported object was damaged between point A and point B, where did the damage actually happen and who is really to blame?

By installing 5G-connected sensors to every single item, either on the inside or outside of packaging, the stakeholders in the supply chain can, at any given time, see the item’s location, temperature, humidity, g-forces and much more.

Recording and sharing data automatically with all parties involved (without the need for manual checkpoints) would give peace of mind to both businesses and customers alike. It could also speed up production, streamline complex logistical processes, and help cut costs. And if incidents were to happen, contingency plans can be drawn up sooner giving better time for mitigation.

Telenor Research: The pioneers of 5G

At Telenor Research, Patrick Waldemar has sent out hundreds of sensors for universities and entrepreneurs to experiment with. The aim is to come up with new and innovative ways to utilise the capabilities of the IoT. For more information, see Telenor Start IoT. We need pioneers, Patrick says, to push today’s technology to its breaking point so that we know what challenges tomorrow’s solutions need to overcome.

At Wallenius Wilhelmsen, we’re working to understand how we can best leverage technologies such as IoT and 5G to maximise reliability and streamline our operations, and bring greater intelligence, efficiency and sustainability to our customers’ outbound supply chains.

Enormous amounts of data alone will not be enough. We need to use smart software on unprecedented scales – and this is where IoT meets Big Data. This is the future, and we’re excited to be a part of it.

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