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5G: Opportunities For Industry 4.0

Compared to previous generations of standards for wireless communication on cellular networks, the fifth generation network will also revolutionize the industrial sector and the consumer one. Let’s see how and why. The fifth generation network (5G), the latest arrival in the field of cellular wireless networks, represents a fundamental paradigm shift compared to previous technologies

The standard underlying its technology, which is drawn up by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), finally considers the industrial production’s needs in developing its characteristics. The definitive transition to 5G technology will push the network to noteworthy performances. This will also reserve exciting possibilities for developing applications in the industrial field, whose focus had never been at the center in previous evolutions.

5G And The Industrial World

In the coming years, manufacturing companies will be increasingly oriented toward technologies related to Industry 4.0, Smart Factory, and IIoT, which require networks with higher reliability, low latency, and extensive device connection capabilities. The 5G network provides a transmission speed never achieved before, allowing the transport of large amounts of data.

It also provides for a high number of devices connected in a relatively small area, even 10 million devices per km²; and finally, it guarantees extreme reliability and low latency. These are fundamental aspects of automation networks, which require deterministic and real-time data transmission capabilities and a well-defined Quality of Service. Therefore,

5G Applications In The Smart Factories Of Tomorrow

By associating the strengths of the 5G network with the industrial reality, we highlight which applications can benefit from the adoption of this technology, especially if we think of the concept of a connected factory from an Industry 4.0 perspective. What are considered the main “pillars” of 5G are three, and each of them can bring new types of applications? The first pillar is the Enhanced Mobile BroadBand” (EMBB) which allows you to carry large data capacities with exceptional performance. 

Where these possibilities are available, it is inevitable to think about the transport of high-definition images, and therefore, in addition, to mention virtual and augmented realities that can be realized even with remote access to the plant via the web, it is also possible to think of application scenarios related to the use of artificial intelligence for the recognition of shapes and aspects. Adding the help of the new Edge and Cloud technologies makes it possible to bring a whole new computational power into the factory. 

The second is the “Massive Machine Type Communication,” which will allow you to connect many devices within the same infrastructure, guaranteeing everyone an adequate quality of service. Here it is necessary to think precisely of sensor and IIoT applications. The amount of data that would be created can create an added surplus value that can be used for other applications based on Big Data. Finally, the third pillar is “Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication” (URLLC) which will allow transport of the most critical and sensitive industrial applications from the view of robustness and speed. 

Here you can think above all of “Machine to Machine” communication, for example, the use of collaborative robots (“Cobot”) able to organize themselves autonomously. Still, by exploring the concept to its fullest potential, you can think of ​​a flexible factory where the different machines, disconnected from the physical constraint of the cable, can meet the needs of production by moving and negotiating their tasks on the spot.

5G Solutions And New Scenarios

For some time now, Siemens has been testing 5G technology at the Automotive test Center in Nuremberg, where the potential of the standard is being studied in a typical factory environment with prototypes used on highly mobile parts such as AGVs. Here Siemens has established how this technology can be combined with other applications and coexist, for example, with different wireless communication standards. 

The first industrial router based on 5G technology is already available: the Scalance MUM856-1. This product allows the connection of industrial plants to a public 5G network and gives a first taste of the potential of this technology; however, the multinational’s developments do not end there. Siemens strongly believes that the maximum performances announced by the standard are achievable in the factory, thanks to the use of 5G networks for private use or without the help of a public service provider. 

This type of implementation, well supported by a wired network up to the occasion, can guarantee obvious advantages also from the point of view of maintenance and Data privacy. To this end, the company plans to bring to light an entire Siemens-branded private infrastructure, therefore, equipped, as well as routers on board the machine (the Scalance MuM family will also be available on a private network), an ad hoc 5G core and radio stations (good) suitable for use in the industrial area.

Also Read: Eight Application Areas That Will Improve Thanks To 5G

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