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How 5G Could Inspire Innovation in Global Supply Chains

  • 5G wireless networks can support a greater number of devices per square mile and provide vast improvements to speed, capacity, and coverage
  • The new generation of wireless technology is expected to greatly improve logistics at in transportation and warehousing
  • Greater autonomy could be supported under 5G

Each update of wireless technology allows for new business innovations, such as improved autonomy and greater smartphone capabilities. With the fifth generation of broadband cellular technology underway, forecasts are suggesting that supply chains will be revolutionized and include $627 billion in sales over the next decade.

5G greatly expands the number of devices that can be supported per square mile, with improvements to bandwidth, speed, capacity, and coverage of smart devices. The improvement allows for better incorporation of the “Internet of Things,” potentially allowing drones, robotics, augmented reality, and autonomous vehicles to take a more prominent role in supply chains.

The technology can support the incorporation of processes like data analytics and cloud communications to create integrative systems, which allows for more streamlined operations at facilities such as ports and warehouses. 5G is also expected to enable real-time tracking of goods, including information on factors such as temperature that might affect sensitive cargoes, reducing the likelihood that shipments will be damaged or lost.

These changes are likely to be developed alongside efforts to make supply chains shorter. The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in greater calls for the reshoring of manufacturing and other steps to make supply chains more resilient.


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