Building a private 5G network to improve productivity

A case study on smart warehouse solutions

As 5G and edge computing technologies gain popularity, private 5G networks are increasingly being considered by enterprises to meet their mission critical network needs.

The growing prominence of private 5G networks

Future-minded organizations are exploring how private 5G networks and edge computing technologies can impact their business. A 2021 global Deloitte study showed 76% of the more than 400 surveyed executives believe 5G will become the most critical network technology within the next three years.

This research reveals optimism regarding the potential productivity gains private 5G networks and edge computing can drive for enterprises. Fiber-like speed and capacity combined with distributed compute and storage can enable low-latency applications to automate manual processes and drive cost efficiencies in ways not feasible with wired networks or previous generations of wireless technology.

The desire to stay at the forefront of this technology evolution motivated a tech-savvy manufacturing company to ask how 5G and edge computing might improve productivity in its smart warehouse operations. Deloitte worked hand in hand with the company to collaborate in building a private 5G network and implementing smart warehouse solutions.

The collaboration focused on applications that could directly benefit from the speed and reliability of a private 5G network, including autonomous mobile robots and precision asset tracking. It also presented the opportunity to explore leading cybersecurity practices and yielded lessons regarding private network architecture and implementation for future projects.

Experimentation, implementation, and operational improvements

Deloitte and the manufacturing company teamed to determine high-value, smart solutions for a 45,000 square foot warehouse. Deloitte’s role was to architect and deploy the network and identify and implement applications that could benefit from 5G. After exploring many options, Deloitte and the manufacturing company narrowed their focus on using the private 5G network to experiment with:

  • A precision location tracking system
  • Fully autonomous mobile robots (forklifts) with onboard decision-making capabilities
  • A high-definition computer vision and environmental sensor system
  • AR/VR visual screens (tablets)

The 5G and edge network provided the warehouse operator with a flexible and reliable platform to support each identified use case. While too early to quantify specific operational improvements, the warehouse operator has already observed anecdotal productivity benefits. For example, the integrated 5G-enabled sensor and asset tracking systems provide perpetually accurate inventory and real-time location data on hundreds of thousands of items, no matter where they are in the warehouse, improving pick accuracy and reducing human error and cycle times for inventory audits.

Download the full report for in-depth details into how Deloitte delivered a complete end-to-end 5G edge computing solution, from challenges to implementation to lessons learned.

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