What 5G Will Mean for Logistics

Posted on June 29, 2022
Categorised as Freight industry news

4G has already vastly improved logistics, but 5G promises to open up even more opportunities. As 5G becomes more available across the globe, everyone from international shipping companies to manufacturers are seeing how new technologies can improve the supply chain, cutting costs and saving time. Thanks to the minimal latency and high response rate of 5G, complex logistics are becoming more streamlined and efficient.

Below are just some of the ways that 5G is improving our supply chains.

Intelligent Technologies

Smart technology that has been designed to automate and streamline logistical processes all require bandwidth. Whilst that has previously been stretched to the limit, 5G provides an increased capacity, allowing for more devices to be connected at once all with minimal latency. For example, just one metre of 5G coverage can support over 1,000 different devices. This means more users can be connected, which means expanding the production of all areas of logistics.

As well as increased capacity, 5G also promises much higher speeds. 5G can be 20 times faster than 4G in some areas, offering up to 10 gigabytes of data transfer per second. 5G can also provide stronger security than 4G, reducing the risk of devices used throughout the logistical processes. Communication devices, sensors, cameras, and inventory management can all benefit from 5G, allowing for more devices and increased production with efficient results.

Asset Tracking

5G can vastly improve supply chain visibility, with connected trackers capable of monitoring the location and condition of shipments in real-time throughout the entire supply chain. Smart tracking devices can not only monitor the location of items, but also the temperature, light exposure, humidity, shock absorption and even show if there has been tampering with electric locks.

This real-time tracking and elimination of any blind spots on the supply chain mean that businesses will always know where their shipments are and what condition they are in. This can be of huge benefit when it comes to planning and dealing with any delays that are caused. It also minimises the risk of theft or tampering, which can be a problem, especially with high-value shipments.

Autonomous Vehicles

With the minimal latency promised from 5G, autonomous self-driving trucks are now a possibility. This will likely transform road freight, making it quicker, safer, and more efficient. The industry will become less dependent on labour, which can result in issues caused by human error, and instead will become an intelligent transport system.

At the moment, a lack of infrastructure and the concern over the safety of self-driving vehicles are obstacles still to be overcome. However, autonomous delivery vehicles are currently being tested, with self-driving scooters tested publicly and autonomous trucks being used inside logistics facilities. It’s only a matter of time before autonomous vehicles become the norm, bringing all of the benefits that they have to offer to the supply chain.

Augmented Reality Applications

Augmented reality, or AR, applications have the potential to significantly improve logistics, especially when combined with a 5G network. Vision picking is just one way that AR on a 5G network can make picking and packing more efficient. Using a camera on a wearable device like glasses, the user will be able to capture barcodes on items rather than using a handheld scanner, with a heads-up display that presents relevant information. This allows the user to work quicker, without the need to stop and handle each item. The user will also be able to give instructions via voice directions and speech recognition, making the process even more streamlined and straightforward.

Like 5G, AR is another technology where we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of its uses within logistics. However, when combined, they both have the potential to revolutionise logistics, removing the risk of human error whilst saving time and money.

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