Deutsche Telekom’s 5G campus network could in the future place many scenarios relating to Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and digitization on a consistent communication platform. The new mobile communications standard also enables wireless technology in security-critical environments.
Industry 4.0 and digitization are also seen by more and more companies as an opportunity to bring production back to Europe. With new technologies, favourable personnel costs can be offset at other locations.
But the way in which production is carried out is also changing: “The trend towards smaller batch sizes and flexible product that can be quickly adapted to other orders increases the need for a wireless and secure network in the production facilities,” notes Christian Schilling, Senior Consultant at the management consultancy Detecon International GmbH, a wholly-owned T-Systems subsidiary.
Industry 4.0 requires low latency times
The public mobile network or private WiFi networks are often not sufficient for the requirements in the production environment – latency times and WiFi working on public, non-reserved frequencies often cause problems with data transmission. With the new 5G mobile communications standard, which allows important data to be prioritized, the requirements in the production area, in particular, can be better addressed.
With the 5G campus network, Telekom is presenting an alternative that can be used to integrate intelligent production in a radio network and with a standard (4G or 5G). With 5G campus networks, companies receive private mobile phone coverage with guaranteed, high transmission quality directly at their location. At the same time, public mobile phone coverage will also be improved locally. Campus networks are generally open to all technologies and can already serve as a springboard to 5G in the near future in the context of LTE (in combination with edge computing).
5G added value lies in the combination of different use cases
With the health check from T-Systems, companies can check what a 5G campus network can do for them in concrete terms. “Connectivity is an enabler. We work with the customer to develop concrete use cases that make production more efficient or simpler. We show how an investment pays off,” says Schilling.
This is usually not just based on one scenario, says the consultant: added value usually comes from the interaction of different use cases. A transformation strategy and roadmap will be developed for this purpose. “The Telekom campus network does not come off the peg, it will look different for each company,”
The classic areas of application for 5G include:
In many cases, 5G makes cabling in production redundant. Even security-critical applications with the lowest latency times can be covered by the standard designed for this purpose. This means that changeovers between orders can be faster and more flexible. Another problem is also solved: integrating the increasing machine-to-machine communication and sensors often poses challenges for existing radio technologies. The data is often collected in advance via a gateway. In the 5G campus network, information can be provided in real-time in conjunction with edge computing. In this way, computer performance can be shifted away from the devices to the edge cloud. If a campus edge cloud is operated, sensitive data does not have to leave the campus: an important security aspect in production.
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)
With 5G, large volumes of data can be transmitted securely, even in real-time-critical applications. A prime example of the data hunger and latency requirements of new technologies are augmented and virtual reality. They are becoming increasingly relevant for Industry 4.0, for example in the area of 2. connected workers. Employees are guided through processes using data glasses, and individual steps can be compared by the system for quality management. At the same time, the technology helps to carry out repairs on-site, with an expert providing support via data glasses and video, who may be working remotely with the machine manufacturer.
Remote monitoring and remote control
Another typical Industry 4.0 scenario is the complete networking of production, in which a 3. digital image (digital twin) is created. Through planning and simulations based on the data that is continuously collected from machines and assets, production can be controlled, optimized and promptly adapted to changes. A 5G campus network can form the connectivity basis for secure data exchange based on uniform standards.
In the area of security and safety, systems with mobile cameras, among other things, ensure continuous monitoring of the production site. This involves the transmission of large amounts of data. In the future, AI technologies related to image recognition can help to automate security tasks. With the help of AI and machine learning, even the smallest deviations and irregularities can be detected. In the future, open spaces outside the factory building can also be monitored with drones.
Autonomous transport systems and intelligently reacting vehicles that know the layout of locations and, in the event of a problem, choose alternative routes to continue supplying production with material, are increasingly being used. One challenge here is fleet management, with the control of different systems. Here, too, 5G can score with the extremely low latency times