Global Mobile Communication Set To Transform Manufacturing
From globalisation and rising operational costs, to shorter product lifecycles and increasingly competitive domestic and overseas markets, today’s manufacturers are facing the toughest trading conditions for decades.
To overcome these barriers, many manufacturers are looking to become more mobile as a key way to capitalise on overseas markets, operate more efficiently, boost the productivity of sales and service teams, reduce order-to-cash times and eliminate paperwork.
Today, businesses operate in an ‘always-on’ environment. Manufacturers need to be constantly and efficiently connected to staff, partners and clients from anywhere in the world, 24-seven.
Mobile technology can help provide a solution to some of these concerns, but as the economy shows signs of revival, are businesses resolving their mobile needs and what are the hurdles for businesses looking to get the most from mobile?
Seamless mobile communications that do not require any changes of handsets or SIM cards and that work without the worry of incurring massive roaming costs could make the lives of many people who are looking to capitalise on global opportunities a whole lot easier.
Mike Procyshyn, Head of Infrastructure for UK based footwear designer and distributor FitFlop, explained how when setting up FitFlop’s New York office, “I wasn't getting anybody from the US phoning me back with issues as our suppliers did not have international calling. This caused delays in communication, potentially leading to loss of business”.
The potential benefits for manufacturers operating globally are extensive. For FitFlop, success came from tapping into the distribution opportunity of the US retail market, and capitalising on the manufacturing potential in Hong Kong.
Mobilising staff (18 percent are constantly travelling) strengthened links with these two markets, while it worked to cut mobile costs by up to 93 percent for some key individuals.
Simplicity and Connectivity
Making things as easy as possible is key in precision manufacturing businesses where mobile allowances or service should be the last concern on specialists’ minds.
The Caterham F1 team is a great example of a precision engineering business that depends on instant pre and post-race communication and data sharing to be at the top of its game. The ability to transfer huge amounts of data has been instrumental in streamlining its operations and helping the race teams work better together and with the engineers.
The quality of mobile service – especially data – often presents a problem for international businesses, especially when there is a lot of travel involved.
According to research from Cisco, global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013 to nearly 18 times the size of the whole internet in 2000.
It can be hard for manufacturers to maintain connectivity and capability of staff that are on the move or communicating internationally with partners, suppliers or distributors.
In any industry the ability to call, send files, data, briefs and contracts instantly can give you the edge, but it depends on high quality, and secure, data networks. WiFi just doesn’t provide the security, accessibility or quality needed.
Tom Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Airinmar, the aerospace repair management specialist, leads a company of sales people and engineers who are constantly travelling across the world.
He said: “We would land in Singapore, you’d have to search for a network, connect with the local provider and sometimes we would only be able to text or sometimes only use the internet.”
The cost of managing and connecting this global workforce was unsustainable, and moreover the quality of service and mobile coverage staff were experiencing wasn’t good enough to maintain productivity.
This problem is something facing many manufacturing businesses as they expand their international footprint via customers, clients, partners or suppliers.
We’re all familiar with the experience of ‘bill shock’, receiving an unexpectedly large bill when returning home from abroad. And businesses are no different. Just ask your CFO.
The problem is that smartphone and mobile technology is now so intertwined in our lives that we find it hard to operate without access to WiFi and mobile data. We’re now so far down the mobile road that it’s naïve to expect employees to work in a diversified supply chain without mobile devices, so businesses have to take costs into consideration.
For manufacturing businesses to operate as effectively as possible in a competitive environment, there is a need to have a consistent mobile experience for all businesses working internationally.
There is a huge need surrounding the quality of mobile service provided abroad, whether it’s demand for hardware simplicity, more data or international call bundles. This is what I believe will give manufacturers the edge in a fast moving competitive marketplace, where agility is everything.
Increasingly, businesses are waking up to the importance of mobile communication and the growth possibilities it provides but too often the pace of change isn’t happening fast enough.
The mobile industry is changing to meet these international business needs, manufacturers just need to reassess how they can benefit from a more comprehensive service.
This article was written by Naresh Chouhan, Marketing Director, Truphone
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.