Ain't Nothing But a 5G Thing ...
by Kirk White,Yusen Logistics
If 2018 was the year of Blockchain and A.I.—and who are we kidding, 2017 was actually the year of Blockchain and A.I. and if you waited until 2018 you were already way behind—then 2020 is going to be the year of 5G and who are we kidding if you wait until 2020 you will be way behind!
Moore’s law is right in effect these days and it’s looking more and more like we are in the nascency of a bona fide technological revolution.
But what IS 5G? Certainly, it’s not THAT important? I mean, my phone is already 4G so how much better can 5G be? To fully answer that…we first need to disconnect the technology from the application. What is 5G? Well, what is ONE G? What is a G?
The short answer is that that G stands for Generation and you probably already knew that. But generation of WHAT?
Speed. The speed of wireless connectivity. When you make a call (do people still do that?) or send a text or buy a movie ticket, you are basically transmitting a signal through space from your device to another device. Now this signal is carried on a frequency (think radio) and moves at a certain speed and is helped along the way by various towers and stations as it moves. And as you increase the STUFF you are sending, you need to bump up to a higher frequency because there’s less interference (think an airplane flying high in the clouds vs crop dusting) but the problem is, the higher the frequency, the more POWER you need to push the signal and the more help you need in the form of towers and antennae to help the signal along. So POWER equals SPEED. And the evolution of this technology looks something like:
1G: you can make wireless PHONE CALLS just like on Star Trek!
2G: you can also send TEXT MESSAGES!
3G: you can also kinda sorta browse the INTERNET!
4G: You can BROWSE the internet!
4GLTE: You can really do all of the above without many issues
5G: 100 times faster than 4GLTE. We’re talking seamless transfer of data. Instant communication with no buffering. And if you are thinking “well what’s wrong with a little buffering? It’s still pretty fast” think about the issues with driverless cars crashing were basically caused by buffering… 5G is going to kick open the doors for all kinds of amazing innovations because the speed and power is exponentially more than ever before. As Gizmodo says, “it’s the difference between a garden hose and a fire hose”
But remember…it ain’t just about your phones. 5G will affect the IoT … not that’s not a mistype of the Game of Thrones season; we’re talking The Internet of Things…that vast network that allows all types of devices to connect to one another and that’s where things get really interesting in the logistics world.
You can already control the lights in your house via an app. You can remotely unlock or start your car with your smart phone. There is a mere hop, skip and a jump to remotely controlling all aspects of a supply chain: automated factories create product that is picked up and delivered by self-driving trucks, auto cleared through customs via A.I. and then (auto, of course) loading on a vessel, moved across the Ocean on crewless vessels to be cleared through U.S. customs (via A.I. ‘natch) and delivered to your DC, unpacked and put away all by non-human hands and YOU get to watch the whole process IN REAL TIME via your smart phone. Think of it as the ultimate pizza tracker! And it’s COMING! Many experts predict as soon as 2024 we will be seeing some form of this application of 5G.
And this is all in process right now. 5G was debuted during the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last year and featured a 360 VR view of Ice Skaters in real time. Verizon is already testing 5G phone service in Chicago (spoiler alert: don’t upgrade your phone just yet…wait until 2020 when the experts are predicting that the network will be complete) Tokyo has pledged that their 2020 Olympics will be fully 5G integrated affair and will take place at the world’s first “Smart City” and if you can imagine a seamless integrating between the traffic monitors, the traffic signals, the parking facilities and the navigation systems in cars, that leads to A.I. enabled rerouting of traffic to make sure the visitors and fans can navigate through the city proper and are automatically redirected to avoid congestion BEFORE IT HAPPENS…if you can imagine this….extend that and think about what the future holds for vessel tracking and trade lanes and having a real time update on your product’s delivery date AS IT’S BEING MANUFACTURED.
The Revolution is no longer going to be televised…it’s streaming live right now!
Kirk White is a corporate creative and a supply chain futurist. He has worked in every division of Yusen Logistics. After a brief stint in Transportation, he transferred to Corporate, where he coordinated Yusen’s Employee Empowered Kaizen system and served as a Specialist for the Business Process Re-engineering group, after which he moved to the Warehouse division to serve as the East Coast Quality Manger before ultimately joining the International division, where he hopes to use his Quality knowledge base to prove an asset to OCM.