Connectivity Solutions for Industrial Transformation

Hannover Messe 2022 will be an in-person event this year pushed back to the end of May. I still have not made plans to attend. I love going to Hannover, but it is an expensive trip for a one-person company (and probably just about any media company this year). The last trip I made before the Covid lockdowns in 2020 was to Hannover for the show preview. This year I attended the preview from my office virtually.

Following is news from the preview from The HARTING Technology Group which will be featuring its “Connectivity+” solutions to digitalization and sustainability. According to Christopher Ukatz, Managing Director of HARTING Deutschland GmbH, “This is all about factoring in societal megatrends: Sustainability, (de)globalisation and demographic change, as well as deriving the relevant technology: Modularisation, autonomy and digital twins. Under the umbrella term Connectivity+, products, solutions, services and applications are presented that are aligned with technological and social megatrends and thereby provide answers to the challenges of the future. The fact that this is not a theoretical construct makes the added value focus for customers all the more clearer.”

The focus [at the stand] is on joint brainstorming, dialoguing, and exchanging ideas on the connectivity of the future. Stand visitors can make an appointment in advance. Christopher Ukatz adds: “This is where the discussion on different technology approaches will take place. Customers can take the storyboard created by an industrial designer with them straight away. Our innovators look forward to meeting up with you!”

Topics that are more relevant than ever before, will be on the HARTING stand under the heading of “All for Energy”: Energy efficiency and decarbonisation are both strongly linked to Connectivity+ and this year’s orientation of the Hannover Messe. Control cabinet applications involving the Han Eco and its targeted use as an interface in data centres, as well as transformer or converter applications are the driving forces in this area.

Another exhibit area is dedicated to eMobility topics and shows the complete range of charging infrastructure: From the charging station for home use to the rapid charging station. Also worth a look: the HARTING product portfolio that at work inside a charging station. From PCB connectors to current sensors and network components, HARTING provides solutions that reduce installation times, support modular concept design and elevate safety levels.

In the exhibition area of small connectors for the topics All for Ethernet, All for PCB and 3D MID, the focus will naturally be on Single Pair Ethernet, also a Connectivity+ solution that is both resource-saving and highly efficient at the same time: From sensors to the cloud with just two wires. SPE creates a seamless data infrastructure and unlocks previously hidden optimisation potential in factory automation.

The PushPull locks highlighted and the associated application examples also clearly demonstrate the added value of modern quick-action locks.

Wi-Fi 6E and the Insatiable Demand For Network Bandwidth

Networking continues to be one of the most important technology developments for manufacturing and production enterprises. I came across this article from Michael Tennefoss, vice president of IoT and strategic partnerships at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. He is responsible for the company’s ecosystem of technology partners and strategic initiatives, including the Internet of Things and blockchain.

He discusses Wi-Fi 6E in this blog post at HPE. Here are the quick takeaways:

LESSONS FOR LEADERS

• Wi-Fi 6E is being implemented in large, real-world environments.

• Newer applications increasingly demand high bandwidth and wireless access.

• Wi-Fi 6E was carefully engineered so as not to interfere with established uses of the bandwidth.

Following are a few of his thoughts. Click the link for the entire article.

In the networking market, one truism has held constant for decades: Applications expand to fill all available bandwidth. No sooner does a technological breakthrough that increases bandwidth hit the market than a myriad of applications are released, pushing the bar higher still. Whether it’s high-definition gaming, augmented or virtual reality, or real-time medical imaging, customer demand for network capacity is insatiable.

Wi-Fi 6 also squeezes roughly 25 percent more bits into every radio frequency (RF) cycle by adjusting the amplitude and phase of each bit through a technique called 1024-bit quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM). RF power management reduces interference with other radio networks, allowing the benefits of OFDMA and QAM to be delivered in real applications and not just lab environments.

Wi-Fi 6 operates in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and while that enables backward compatibility with previous iterations of Wi-Fi, it was well known that additional bands would be needed to accommodate future needs. Work was afoot for years to secure unlicensed spectrum in the 6 GHz band for this purpose. However, doing so required reallocating frequencies already in use by ultra-wideband systems, microwave services, and wireless backhaul.

The benefits of using Wi-Fi 6E include more capacity, improved high-density congestion mitigation, and 160 MHz channels for demanding high-definition streaming. Additionally, it avoids the increasingly congested 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands with headroom to spare as 6 GHz devices come on the market. These benefits depend on the availability of Wi-Fi 6E access points and 6E-enabled client devices.

Aruba began shipping its AP-630 Series Wi-Fi 6E APs in 2021 and predicts that the transition to 6E will be in full swing in 2022. Industry analyst firm 650 Group forecasts that revenues for the Wi-Fi 6E-based enterprise and outdoor wireless LAN market will exceed $1 billion by 2025 and that the consumer market—including routers, consumer mesh, extenders, and broadband customer premises equipment with Wi-Fi—will also exceed $1 billion in the same period. A list of 6E-enabled products is published by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

ODVA Wraps Up Annual General Meeting Detailing Much Activity

I’m sitting in the San Diego airport following my second post-pandemic conference. ODVA wrapped up its 2022 Annual General Meeting at lunch today with technical committee sessions continuing the rest of the day. This organization may be the most active of any similar one of its kind currently. Working groups met virtually during the two years of the pandemic following the 2020 meeting and maybe were more productive than ever.

Technical Sessions

Yesterday, March 9, I sat in two technical sessions relevant to my interests. The first, ”Edge to Cloud”, discussed the work being done to map CIP data to OPC UA. A large amount of detail has been by the ODVA working group as well as work with a joint working group writing a companion specification for OPC Foundation. Much field-level data that may not even be used by the control function bears content useful to other systems—many of which use the cloud for storage and retrieval.

The second technical session concerned using CIP networks in process automation applications. ODVA originally developed DeviceNet, a fieldbus most useful for discrete applications. Even EtherNet/IP found most uses in factory automation. Process automation users also discovered a need to use EtherNet/IP (a CIP network). The technology enticing for process automation users is Advanced Physical Layer (APL). This network can handle identified required areas including safety, hazardous areas, configuration, process improvement, secure remote access, and 24/7 uptime. Work continues to define and implement standards.

ODVA Growth

Al Beydoun, executive director of ODVA and Adrienne Meyer, VP of operations, reviewed the many association activities of the past two years.

  • Grew membership to greater than 365
  • Focused on growth in China
  • Development work for EtherNet/IP over TSN
  • CIP Safety was recertified with IEC
  • Collaboration continued with Fieldcomm Group and FDT Group
  • Worked with OPD Foundation
  • Worked on xDS device descriptions
  • Extensive online training and promotion.

The technical committees recorded activities of 80 SEs and TDEs, completed two publication cycles in 2020 and three in 2021 one of which concerned APL, and recorded 27 volume revisions. They also worked on standards for resource constrained devices, process industry requirements, and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN).

User Requirements from P&G

Paul Maurath, Technical Director—Process Automation from Procter & Gamble’s Central Engineering, presented the user’s view of automation. I will dispense with suspense. His conclusion, ”Help us manage complexity.”

Maurath told the story of setting up a test process cell in the lab. They used it to test and demonstrate Ethernet APL devices and the network. They discovered that APL worked, the controller didn’t see any issues. The discouraging discovery was the amount of configuration required and the complexity of setup. He referred to an E&I technician working the shift on a Sunday morning at 3 am. Call comes in. Device is down. With a regular HART / 4-20 mA device, the tech has the tools. But with an Ethernet device configuration can be a problem.

Conclusion:

  • There is a need for new technology to deliver functionality and simplicity
  • Standards are great
  • Please keep end users in mind when developing standards and technology

ARC Advisory Group Glimpses the Future

Harry Forbes, research director for ARC Advisory Group. devoted a substantial part of his keynote to open source. ”There is,” he noted, ”an IT technology totally overlooked by OT—open source software.” He principally cited the Linux Foundation. You’ll find news and comments from LF throughout this blog. I see great value from this technology. That an ARC researcher also sees the power was somewhat a surprise, though. ”It’s not software that’s eating the world,” said Forbes, ”it is open source eating the world.”

The problem to solve as detailed by presentations at the last ARC Industry Forum (and I think also worked on by the Open Process Automation Forum which also appears often on this blog) is the need to decouple hardware and software allowing easier updates to the software through containers (Docker, Kubernetes) and virtual machines.

Is that the future? I’m not sure where the vendors are that will bring this innovation, but I’m sure that many users would welcome it.

Conclusion

ODVA appears to be thriving. It is at the forefront of pushing new standards. It is looking forward at new technologies. It is growing membership and mindshare. The staff also assembled an outstanding event.

Cellular 5G Plus WiFi For Comprehensive Private Networking

Still talking networking with the latest capabilities. Here is news from HPE combining 5G cellular plus WiFi for a more comprehensive private networking experience for industrial and other applications. I’m sure there will be many more announcements coming from most wireless suppliers.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced that it is extending its capabilities for private networking across both 5G and Wi-Fi enabling new enterprise and industrial applications from edge to cloud. Pre-integrated with radio access capabilities from leading vendors, the private 5G solution can be deployed quickly, flexibly and as a service with HPE GreenLake.

Although 5G far surpasses Wi-Fi in terms of wide area coverage, Wi-Fi has the edge when it comes to cost-effective, indoor connectivity. With private 5G technology from HPE, customers can uniquely enjoy the best of both worlds with seamless interworking across both private 5G and Wi-Fi.

“Data growth is creating countless new opportunities across many industries, but superfast, stable and secure connectivity is essential to enable these digital experiences,” said Tom Craig, VP and General Manager, HPE Communications Technology Group.

The private 5G solution from HPE is based on HPE 5G Core Stack, an open, cloud-native, container-based 5G core network solution. It has been enriched with new capabilities for private networking including modular operation and automation, an enterprise self-service portal, agile configuration and change management.

The private 5G market is developing quickly including new market entrants, such as hyperscale cloud providers. Telecoms operators are looking for simple ways to deploy private 5G networks in order to meet growing customer expectations for the connected edge. HPE recently announced that OPTAGE, a Japanese service provider, is leveraging HPE’s private 5G solution for its Local 5G testbed implementations.

HPE and Qualcomm Collaborate on Next Gen 5G Networks

Newer radio networks including 5G and WiFi6 are beginning to be deployed in industrial settings. Along with the power of private networks and faster speeds comes new ways to manage the networks. Qualcomm has been on a partnering campaign lately. Here is news of collaboration between it and Hewlett Packard Enterprise relative to radio access networks (RAN).

This collaboration aims to improve user experiences by helping ready virtualized and open RAN platforms to support the high-capacity and low-latency workloads of future networks. Part of the release concerns Qualcomm’s new X100 5G RAN inline accelerator card.

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced plans to collaborate to deliver the next generation of 5G distributed units, powered by Qualcomm Technologies’ inline accelerator card, the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN. This collaboration aims to address the demands of next-generation networks, simplify deployments and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) by delivering high-performance, O-RAN-compliant, energy-efficient, virtualized, cloud-native 5G solutions.  Together, the companies aim to transform how networks are designed and next-generation services are delivered.

Network operators currently face the difficult challenge of deploying cost-effective 5G network infrastructure, while addressing the complexities of next-generation networks. Qualcomm Technologies’ and HPE’s 5G RAN virtualized distributed unit (vDU) solution combines the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and the RAN workload optimized HPE ProLiant DL110 Gen10 Plus Telco Server to deliver the industry’s first fully optimized vDU. The system is designed to support up to four high-performance accelerator cards in an extremely small footprint 1U server, which lowers power consumption, even while supporting dense 5G mid-band and massive MIMO use cases. According to a comprehensive joint study by HPE and Qualcomm Technologies, operators will lower TCO by up to 60% for 5G deployments.

“HPE is looking forward to collaborating with Qualcomm Technologies to help address the rigorous and ever-changing demands of 5G,” said Tom Craig, general manager and vice president, communications technology group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Our industry-leading HPE carrier-grade infrastructure integrated with Qualcomm Technologies’ innovative technology will further benefit our customers as they expand the deployment of their 5G networks.”

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with HPE to further the capabilities and efficiencies of 5G virtualized networks,” said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, 5G, mobile broadband and infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Through our collaboration with HPE, we are able to deliver enhanced, powerful and reliable 5G experiences to consumers.”

The Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card – an optimized and dedicated hardware – is designed to deliver a high-performance, low-latency, and power-efficient solution that is expected to enable cloud-native and virtualized 5G networks deployments by offloading server CPUs from compute-intensive 5G baseband processing.

5G Industrial Wireless Private Network Installed in Croatia

We are beginning to see more installations proving the value of 5G private cellular networks for industrial applications. This should be almost commonplace by the beginning of 2023. This is the third Nokia application I’ve seen in a bit over six months.

Nokia announced it is partnering with OIV, a leading provider of national strategic communications infrastructure in Croatia, to deliver a 5G private wireless network solution that will enhance operational efficiency and enable new capabilities at AD Plastik’s automotive component manufacturing facility in Croatia.

Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) application platform will enable low latency and secure, reliable 5G wireless connectivity for equipment, machinery, and a set of applications at AD Plastik’s manufacturing campus in Zagreb, Croatia. It will replace and overcome the limitations of the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to allow AD Plastik to implement new Industry 4.0 use-cases and enhance operational efficiency.

Marinko Došen, President of AD Plastik Group, said: “Further digitalization and automation of business in our industry is simply a necessity. Just as your chances on the market are significantly reduced if you produce vehicles that cannot be connected, so you have to keep up with trends in the production of automotive components. Industry 4.0 is our reality, and we must be ready to continue its implementation. 5G technology, in addition to being a hundred times faster than the existing one, allows us to simultaneously connect smart and digital devices that we use every day in our production, and which will be even more represented in the future. Simply put, at the moment it is the basis for connecting devices that will help us in the production and delivery processes, and for the future we create the preconditions for building a modern, digital and promising company.”

Andrej Skenderović Project Manager at OIV Digital Signals and Networks, said: “OIV as a modern digital company is constantly looking for new solutions for existing and future clients. We see the Private 5G network as a key technology for further development in the next decade. That is why we launched this project with the aim of expanding the range of our services. In this technology, which is characterized not only by a large capacity of the network, but also by many other possibilities, we see the potential to start the recovery and further development of the industry. We hope that with this project we will continue to be the leading provider of innovative services in our country.”

Michael Siegel, Director Nokia Enterprise South-East Europe, said: “By implementing the Nokia DAC, AD Plastik will benefit from the highest reliability and lowest latency connectivity for all their operations, allowing the company to accelerate its digitalisation and industry 4.0 transformation for greater efficiency and flexibility while maintaining quality and safety in its manufacturing facility in Croatia”