Navigating the Next Era: 2024 Industrial Telecommunications Strategies
By Andrew Martin, Head of Product Management at Rajant Corporation
In the rapidly evolving realm of industrial telecommunications, 2024 will usher in a transformative wave that will redefine operational dynamics for businesses, particularly those reliant on robust telecommunication systems. Notably, we’ve identified four pivotal trends set to shape the industrial telecommunications landscape: the surge in connected workers and workplaces, the greater use of edge computing, the integration of augmented reality, and the continued expansion of 5G technology. Let us evaluate these trends to paint a clear picture of where industrial telecommunications is headed and what the new normal will be in 2024.
1.Elevated Connectivity: A Boom for Workers and Workplaces
In the era of Industry 4.0, the synergy between systems, human workers, and workspaces will revolutionize commercial operations’ potential productivity and efficiency. Integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data is at the forefront of this evolution. It empowers industries to utilize sensor data for improved task management, proactive equipment maintenance, and preventing emergencies before they arise. This interconnectivity not only boosts operational efficiency, but also elongates the lifespan of crucial assets.
IoT sensor data, coupled with intelligent software, facilitates the implementation of predictive maintenance. In this model, AI analyzes machine data and maintenance history to forecast when issues are likely to appear. This proactive approach can extend the life of assets and optimize the up-time of expensive machinery. However, for such a model to thrive, it is necessary to have a network capable of simultaneous high-volume data transmission and processing from multiple sources.
Asset location management and proximity alert systems are becoming indispensable for ensuring worker safety in dynamic industrial settings. These solutions track asset locations and deliver real-time alerts to prevent accidents, thereby enhancing emergency response times. The addition of integrated hazardous material and emergency IoT alert systems, such as toxic gas and seismic activity detectors, further underscores the commitment to worker safety, making the industry more appealing to the workforce.
2.Edge Computing: Reshaping Decision-Making Dynamics
The second major trend in industrial telecommunications is the growing deployment of edge computing. Traditionally, decision-making processes were centralized in a single computer, resulting in delays and inefficiencies. Edge computing addresses this challenge by processing data closer to the source, reducing latency, and enabling highly accurate decision-making in an industrial setting.
Particularly valuable in constrained environments like construction sites and vehicle workshops, edge computing reflects a shift from prioritizing wide bandwidth capacity to emphasizing data flow and processing speed. As high-volume data capture becomes more prevalent in industrial settings, the benefits of edge computing become even more apparent. On-site data processing saves time and materials, contributing to more sustainable and cost-effective operations.
3.Augmented Reality: Enhancing Worker Support and Safety
Augmented Reality (AR) is emerging as a transformative force in the industrial toolkit, offering innovative solutions to enhance worker support and safety. AR applications provide real-time information on hazardous areas, enabling workers to navigate dangerous environments with heightened awareness. AR lens diagnostics expedite the identification of item details or malfunctioning equipment, streamlining maintenance processes to bring equipment back into safe operating condition.
Heads-Up Display (HUD) technology is revolutionizing how workers receive job details and guidance. Connected workplaces can issue prompts directly to workers’ displays, facilitating swift responses to equipment issues and more accurate task execution. HUD technology improves efficiency and minimizes downtime, resulting in significant cost savings for businesses.
The seamless integration of augmented reality with industrial workflows demands a telecommunications backbone that can support AR applications’ dynamic and data-intensive demands. As AR becomes ingrained in daily operations, from real-time diagnostics to intuitive heads-up displays, the reliability and stability of the underlying telecommunications network become paramount.
4.5G Expansion: Supercharging Industrial Connectivity
The fourth trend shaping the industrial telecommunications landscape is the ongoing expansion of 5G technology. Representing a revolutionary step forward rather than an incremental improvement, continued advancements promise to eliminate current pain points in commercial usage and unlock new possibilities for industries.
Similar to how Open RAND has allowed the industry to optimize components in the 5G core, new tech in hybrid solutions is allowing a flexible and scalable network architecture into the crucial for 5G expansion in industrial and commercial applications, ensuring the network can handle the increasing demands of data-intensive applications. The extension of range and coverage area addresses connectivity challenges in remote or expansive industrial sites, offering a more comprehensive and reliable network.
The concept of a mesh hybrid connectivity solution is gaining traction, providing a flexible and scalable network architecture. Mesh network structures allow for the seamless integration of diverse devices and applications, fostering the development of large automated fleets of robots and enhancing overall network security.
The broad expansion of 5G networks opens the door to unprecedented possibilities for industrial and commercial applications. From supporting advanced automation to enabling real-time data analytics, 5G is poised to become the cornerstone of Industry 4.0.
The Indispensable Role of Telecommunications Infrastructure
The 2024 trends in industrial telecommunications highlight the critical role of a reliable and stable telecommunications infrastructure. The need for robust telecommunication networks becomes more apparent as industries embrace connected workforces, leverage edge computing, integrate augmented reality, and explore new possibilities with 5G technology.
Telecommunications infrastructure is no longer a mere support system; it is an essential enabler of commercial business, comparable in importance to financial resources. Companies investing in cutting-edge telecommunications solutions are not merely keeping pace with technological advancements—they are future-proofing operations and positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation.
As we navigate the future of industrial telecommunications, one thing is clear: the seamless integration of these trends relies on the foundation of a reliable, stable, and forward-looking telecommunications infrastructure. Businesses recognizing and investing in this foundation will thrive in tomorrow’s dynamic and interconnected industrial landscape.
About the Author
Andrew Martin is the Director of Product Management for Rajant Corporation, where he runs the business’s product strategy and roadmap. He has 20 years of experience in tech, focusing on edge sensor deployments, Industrial IoT, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, SaaS solutions, and BI analytics software.