The promise of 5G is twofold: speed and low latency. Under the right conditions, the technology has enough advantages to meet some intensive business needs, including enabling private 5G networks in closed-loop industrial applications.
Manufacturing and mining, for example, and other industrial operations could leverage increasingly reliable on-premises private 5G network solutions to manage connected machinery in the factory. Increasingly “smart” industries are embracing the operational and economic efficiencies of 5G in edge workflows. Combined with predictive analytics, IoT Applications can provide real-time alerts and data collection to inform operational and strategic intelligence. The IIoT market is expected to reach approximately US$344.7 billion by 2026 according to ReportLinker.
IIoT sensors can capture and detect a number of variables ranging from temperature to inventory levels to production output. Likewise, devices can work in reverse, changing settings, dimming controls, and generally managing industrial machinery. Sensor data fed into predictive algorithms can often help inform machine maintenance schedules, for example, preventing problems from escalating and leading to costly downtime.
Technologies such as robotics, automated production lines, predictive maintenance based on artificial intelligence, digital twin technology and remote control and monitoring of installations are being qualified as industry 4.0 by the technology press. It should be noted, however, that “industry” (manufacturers, engineering organizations, utility companies, infrastructure providers, mining, etc.) benefits from the IIoT and, by proxy, industry 4.0 for about 50 years in some cases. What’s new are 5G (and Wi-Fi 6 – see below) networks that bring these innovations together in a functioning ecosystem – mainly because wireless networks of all colors are often cheaper and faster to use. only deploy copper or fiber connectivity infrastructure over short distances. In particular, the range of 5G is quite limited without multiple relays due to its use of very high radio frequencies.
Despite renewed interest in 5G adoption, Wi-Fi remains the most prevalent wireless technology in industrial settings. World Wi-Fi Organization Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) recently released the Wi-Fi 6/6E for Industrial IoT: Enable Wi-Fi Determinism in an IoT World report detailing how next-generation Wi-Fi 6 – already available if not widely deployed – is increasingly the right choice for connecting existing and emerging IIoT use cases.
The WBA’s IIoT task force was made up of more than three dozen vendors and service providers who worked on projects mentioned in the white paper, including Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom.
Practical IIoT applications, including autonomous mobile robots and ground vehicles (AMR and AGV), equipment sensors, safety controls, automotive industrial location-based services, and time-sensitive wireless networks (WTSN) have all were reviewed to determine the performance of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, and therefore whether it would prove as viable as 5G or be better suited for specific use cases.
Practical examples of IIoT
For AMRs and AGVs, Intel and Cisco worked with partners to experiment where network latency requirements were between 10 and 20 ms, device movement speeds were less than 50 km/h, and with reliability of 99.9999% network. Cisco has also worked on security control applications where sub-latency is critical, such as when an operator leaves their console and automated systems need to take control.
Cisco worked closely with Mettis Aerospace on a testbed for Wi-Fi 6 industrial examples, testing high-reliability, high-density, low-power devices. Work has also been undertaken with Intel to study Wi-Fi 6 on AR/VR applications reaching high resolution frame rates of 90 fps, where throughput requirements can reach 100 Mb/s.
“We are delighted to be working with Mettis Aerospace and are grateful to the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership for inviting us to work with them to demonstrate the capabilities and promote the convergence of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 in heterogeneous networks,” said Tiago Rodrigues. , the general manager of WBA. “This first trial will serve as an example for industrial manufacturers around the world embracing the shift to Industry 4.0 transformational capabilities with Wi-Fi 6.”
“Industrial manufacturers work in incredibly complex environments, which can make cellular technologies difficult to deploy and operate effectively,” Dave Green, IT manager at Mettis Aerospace, said on the company blog. “We believe Wi-Fi 6 has an important role to play within the 5G ecosystem, enabling a range of cost-effective industrial applications.”