5G Implementation: How to Unleash the Power of Industry 4.0

Higher bandwidth, lower latency, ultra-secure networks, and the ability to process terabytes of data at lightening speeds. 5G presents an opportunity to not only to make the most of new developments – such as AI, machine learning, mixed reality, and digital twins – but also to unleash the potential of existing infrastructure to maximise productivity.

Getting started with 5G, however, is not a simple plug and play process. There are a variety of key players who can help you begin your digital journey, including telecoms providers, mobile operators, testbeds, hyperscalers, and systems integrators.

It’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve from your 5G journey from the outset. With so many potential use cases – such as tracking equipment, AI-driven training, automated intelligent quality inspection processes, identifying and releasing under-utilised capacity, or greater supply chain collaboration – it can be difficult to know where to start.

It’s crucial to accept that it is a journey. Start with one clear objective or use case but be conscious that this is likely to evolve – in most cases, expand – once you get underneath the hood and begin to identify additional ways 5G networks can power positive change across your business.

The Value of Multi-Disciplinary Teams

A recent CapGemini report suggested that 40% of businesses looking to begin their 5G journeys were planning to do so using an entirely in-house team.

While it’s not impossible to do so, it requires significant investment in time and research. In our experience, a team of internal personnel and external specialists is usually best.

It’s also essential that teams are multi-disciplinary. Creating a working group made up of multi-disciplinary experts is far more likely to result in success than simply ‘leaving it to I.T. This working group should include operations directors, change managers, logistics teams and shop-floor staff. It is also worth considering engaging key clients or suppliers at the earliest stages, as collaboration can often amplify productivity gains and prevent communications or logistics issues before implementation.

It’s also essential that teams are multi-disciplinary. Creating a working group made up of multi-disciplinary experts is far more likely to result in success than simply ‘leaving it to I.T.’.

Ste Ashton
Digital Infrastructure & Connectivity Manager and Business Lead, Worcestershire County Council and nexGworx


Choosing External Advisers

Telecoms providers and mobile operators can be crucial facilitators during the early stages of 5G adoption. They can provide essential advice on when 5G will be available in your location, as well as which other options you may need to consider – be they private indoor or outdoor networks, public mobile networks or a hybrid infrastructure.

5G testbeds also have a role to play, allowing you to try out processes off or on-site, experiment with different networks and test use cases to highlight issues you need to consider in your implementation plan. Testbed providers usually work with lots of different companies so can also bring the benefit of experience gained elsewhere to your 5G project. They can provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of different suppliers and ensure you’re up to date with latest developments in specialist areas, such as security.

Organisations may also want to consider the benefits of working with hyperscalers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google or other connectivity platforms and ‘network software’ providers. These companies offer a range of services, from applications to virtualised network cores, which are readily scalable and can be used with a range of radio networks. By using shared spectrum licenses, traditional mobile operators don’t need to be involved, which can be a cost-effective way to get started and try out ideas before committing to more significant 5G investment.

Systems integrators and professional services providers can also be useful allies, working with any or all the above specialists to help build your strategy, facilitate and organise network build, and use case integration.

Benefit From a Collaborative Approach

One further consideration is exploring the potential to collaborate with complementary organisations on your 5G programme. This could be with companies within your supply chains, important customers, nearby businesses or those working in the same or complementary sectors.

In a sector where industry norms have yet to be standardised, adopting a more collaborative approach offers several potential benefits. It can ensure change programmes effectively integrate with key partners’ operations, provide critical mass to actively shape your industry’s direction of travel, reduce costs, and bring fresh perspectives to unleash greater productivity gains. It also creates opportunities to strengthen relationships with key organisations, scaling resources to test and deliver 5G-enabled transformation programmes more quickly and, in some cases, enabling greater access to financing.

Just as the industrial revolution brought huge benefits to the western world, industry 4.0 promises huge benefits for companies of all sizes. 5G is now here to deliver on that promise, along with the experts who can help you map your route. As with any pioneering activity, it won’t always be easy but, for those who seize the initiative, the potential rewards are immense.

Are you ready for the journey? 


Ste Ashton
Digital Infrastructure & Connectivity Manager and Business Lead, Worcestershire County Council and nexGworx

Ste Ashton is a project and programme management expert with over two decades of experience. He currently heads up the Broadband, 5G, and Connectivity Services at the Worcestershire City Council, and is the Digital Infrastructure & Connectivity Manager and Business Lead at nexGworx.
He also previously led projects as part of Nations and Regions in the build-up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.