Industry 4.0 – The Perfect Storm for 5G, IoT and Cloud

ASOCS is disrupting the industrial network connectivity market with an open and virtualized software solution that delivers 5G private mobile network solutions in a single software stack.

Introduction

Imagine you were looking for the ultimate use case that combines the latest cutting edge technologies – 5G connectivity, the Internet of Things and Cloud – manufacturing production lines may not be the first that comes to mind, however it is Industry 4.0 that is pushing the limits on implementation of new smart connections.

There are two main driving factors pushing technological demands: automation to increase productivity while reducing costs and safety. The challenges faced are to connect multiple machines with varying needs and capabilities simultaneously and synchronized some of which need mobility. Imagine, if you will, automating an entire musical orchestra that is being driven around in a self driving vehicle.

In order to understand the needs there are three main components required: Simultaneity, Synchronicity, Interoperability. The first two are requirements of the manufacturer, the last is requirement of the technology deployment. ASOCS has been deeply involved in solving these challenges and is uniquely placed to discuss how Industry 4.0 in spearheading cutting edge networking.

The Orchestra

Every production line is different, but with the right imagination and implementation of networking technologies, all can implement significant automation; increasing productivity, decreasing long term costs and functioning far safer than people can. The problem is the number of simultaneous machines and processes that need to be managed and synchronized not just in terms of quantity but also variety. Each machine becomes one of the IoT devices that needs to be controlled.

For example, the production line machinery itself can be automated, but so can the quality control via a smart camera, automated vehicles to move goods and raw materials around the plant, drones, warehousing storage and retrieval, safety cameras, order fulfilment packaging and the list goes on.

Traditional networks do not meet the needs. Wi-Fi requires transmission back to the ISP server and back leading to minute latencies that general consumers would barely notice but become critical in real time automated decision making processes, while cables limit mobility. In addition, internet based connections are restricted by set upload and download speeds. You may have a 100 Gigabyte connection, but this is your download speed, your upload speed would probably be 10 Gigabytes. Take for example quality assurance. A camera monitors products looking for defects; once detected the information needs to be transmitted to a hub, confirmed and an action to remove the product from the line is transmitted back to a machine to remove it. The camera needs to upload the image at the highest speed possible and the machine that removes the product from the line.

This is where 5G Connectivity becomes the best possible solution available, and in particular a 5G Private Network with an assigned spectrum ownership. 5G ORAN enables the control over download and upload ratios per IoT device, with additional advantage of ultimate security. Each device is equipped with a SIM that can only communicate with a closed and fully owned super fast network. Information transmitted can be dispatched to an on-premise server (which can provide performance but with a cost) or Cloud server (which is scalable) or to a hybrid of the two choosing which information goes where according to the needs.

The Conductor

What the orchestra requires is a conductor and this is where ASOCS steps in. Not everyone is a virtuoso musician with conducting skills, just as not every tech department in a plant are 5G connectivity experts. The key is to provide a solution that speaks in familiar terms and making deployment and management as simple as any traditional ethernet or Wi-Fi network. The second consideration is to make the solution flexible and elastic: you need to ramp up for seasonal production or you want to add more longer term production expansion. Using a Cloud-Based software led solution based on a SaaS style model like CYRUS® provides the simplicity and flexibility needed.

There is also a need to have flexibility in hardware used. Picking the right type of servers and capacities and radio controllers all of which can work together on a single private network beit indoors, outdoors or both – all picked from the best global providers and enabling all this to function together – interoperability is key for Industry 4.0.

Where is it all leading?

The ultimate goal is that the only limitation should be imagination and not technological – but there is a step beyond this which is a collective imagination. The 5G ORAN community with shared use cases enables us all to take advantage of proven unique uses and adapt them to new needs. As we add more types of technology such as VR/AR, smart glasses/goggles, smart gloves, AI the rate at which Industry 4.0 will be breaking new ground is only set to increase leaving them the ultimate use case of 5G connectivity, IoT and Cloud.

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