By Mikael Bäck, corporate officer for Ericsson’s Group Function Technology Group
Industry 4.0 has arrived, and it is going to spark an unprecedented wave of innovation in the Middle East and Africa (MEA).
Industry 4.0 merges operational, information and communication technologies with cyber-physical systems, enabled by advanced wireless communication and Industrial IoT services. This digital and wireless transformation will be powered by 5G networks, which have the potential to drive economic growth in the region like no previous generation of mobile technology.
For example, the security, high speeds, low latency and massive number of connections in 5G networks will support smart city and agriculture transformation in many countries in the Middle East and Africa. This will enable new revenue streams from IoT and industrial applications and accelerate digitalization.
Agriculture 4.0 will particularly transform both the demand side and the value chain/supply side of the food-scarcity equation, using technology to address the real needs of consumers.
The UAE already uses the SCADA system, which combines up-to-date, real-time data from weather stations with data from soil moisture and salinity sensors. And IKEA, David Chang and the ruler of Dubai have invested USD 40 million in vertical farming. Other Arab countries are also shifting their focus to expand their agriculture vertically, and conducting trials with a number of new technologies.
The Middle East and Africa region is also the world’s largest center for mineral mining (diamond, phosphate, gold) and for oil and gas operations. The domain choice of IoT connectivity for these industries will be 5G.
An interesting case study in this area is the Boliden Aitik mine in Sweden. The application of 5G-enabled automation reduces costs by one percent, with communications being the key enabler. For the Aitik mine alone, carrying out drilling and blasting using automation shows an annual EUR 2.5 million net saving. This illustrates the potential for similar operations in MEA and other regions.
Click here to read more about how 5G has been switched on in the Middle East.