Sander Rotmensen of Siemens automotive test center in Nuremberg, Germany and Yongbin Wei of Qualcomm recently discussed the birth of 5G networks for industrial applications. The occasion concerned the press release announcing implementation of a 5G private industrial network.

We’ve all heard about 5G and worries from a variety of national governments about whether another country is embedding spy firmware in its local company’s products. Personally, I think the worry is both silly and well-founded. Every country that houses a company in the market most likely has intelligence agents trying to do the same thing. (I could go into my university education and acquaintance with a professor with “former” CIA ties, but that goes too far afield.) And all companies will deny any tie.

And…we are going to use 5G because the benefits are great. A benefit everyone mentions is the ability to build private networks for a local facility. The network has very low latency and built-in 5-9s (99.999%) uptime.

And what are some of the use cases we can anticipate? Rotmensen and Wei provided a list of ideas:

  • Mobile equipment (tablets, etc.)
  • Assisted Workers (remote video/audio to experts, etc.)
  • Backhaul depending upon geography
  • Autonomous machines–robots, cobots with communication and low latency
  • Autonomous logistics
  • Edge computing, larger amounts of data with low latency

With the final release of IEEE Time Sensitive Networking still years away, 5G is looking very good. We are on release 15 presently. Release 16 is anticipated in June, 2020. With release 17, the increased capacity would easily handle pretty dense machine-to-machine and IoT applications.

First Private Standalone Industrial 5G Network

Showing the benefits of today’s trend toward cooperation and partnerships, this joint proof-of-concept network will explore the capabilities of 5G standalone networks for industrial applications.

The private 5G standalone (SA) network in a real industrial environment uses the 3.7-3.8GHz band. Both companies have joined forces in this project: Siemens is providing the actual industrial test conditions and end devices such as Simatic control systems and IO devices and Qualcomm is supplying the 5G test network and the relevant test equipment.

The 5G network was installed in Siemens’ Automotive Showroom and Test Center in Nuremberg. Automated guided vehicles are (AGV) displayed here which are primarily used in the automotive industry. New manufacturing options and methods are also developed, tested and presented before they are put into action on customer sites. This allows Siemens’ customers, such as automated guided vehicle manufacturers, to see the products interact live.

The Automotive Showroom and Test Center enables Siemens and Qualcomm to test all the different technologies in a standalone 5G network under actual operating conditions and to come up with solutions for the industrial applications of the future. Qualcomm Technologies installed the 5G test system comprising infrastructure and end devices in less than three weeks. Siemens provided the actual industrial setup including Simatic control systems and IO devices.

“Industrial 5G is the gateway to an all-encompassing, wireless network for production, maintenance, and logistics. High data rates, ultra-reliable transmission, and extremely low latencies will allow significant increases in efficiency and flexibility in industrial added value,” says Eckard Eberle, CEO Process Automation at Siemens. “We are therefore extremely pleased to have this collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies so that we can drive forward the development and technical implementation of private 5G networks in the industrial sector. Our decades of experience in industrial communication and our industry expertise combined with Qualcomm Technologies’ know-how are paving the way for wireless networks in the factory of the future.”

“This project will provide invaluable real-world learnings that both companies can apply to future deployments and marks an important key milestone as 5G moves into industrial automation,” said Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President & President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA. “Combining our 5G connectivity capabilities with Siemens’ deep industry know-how will help us deploy technologies, refine solutions, and work to make the smart industrial future a reality.”

The German Federal Network Agency has reserved a total bandwidth of 100 MHz from 3.7 GHz to 3.8 GHz for use on local industrial sites. German companies are thus able to rent part of this bandwidth on an annual basis and to make exclusive use of it on their own operating sites in a private 5G network whilst also providing optimum data protection. Siemens is using this principle to evaluate and test industrial protocols such as OPC UA and Profinet in its Automotive Showroom and Test Center together with wireless communication via 5G.

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