How Has COVID-19 altered Digital Transformation?
"Covid19 has forced us to unlock the potential of the investment in the collaborative tools and telecom infrastructure of the 3rd industrial revolution and imparted greater momentum to the transition towards 4th Industrial Revolution society. The pace of commoditization and automation has accelerated.”
As we discussed last week in our examination of “” The Fourth Industrial Revolution has emerged in recent decades and involves a digital transformation focusing around robotic process automation, artificial intelligence/machine learning and blockchain. Digital transformation refers to the integration of technology in all areas of business, Manufacturing Global takes a detailed look at the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on the acceptance of this digital transformation.
As Mishra shared in his article “” the global pandemic has forced the hand of many organisations to adapt these digital alterations at a quicker pace than previously planned. Some companies have had to adapt to accept that these digital transformation measures are vital, and need to be implemented within the next few months and not over the upcoming years. These changes mean that companies are able to keep working remotely, operate factories in “” and use predictive systems to increase efficiency and lower costs.
Digital adoption is in different stages as the entire world is in various phases of recovery from COVID-19, with businesses considering prolonging remote working options which will require an investment in video software for example. This means an increased need to digitise internal operations to ensure that teams can continue their work remotely and uninterrupted. On the other hand, this sudden acceleration in digital transformation is proving a boon to some companies, as we have seen since January, Google Meet, which is free to use, grew its peak daily usage by
Contactless and the “new normal”
As the pandemic has highlighted, public health and contactless operations are critical. Customers are able to request a contactless customer interaction with businesses, either due to the law in local areas or due to their expectations moving forward. Businesses need to show their commitment to this new way of thinking.
This contactless approach needs to go further than just in-store, with manufacturers and logistics companies requiring new technology to allow them to keep their supply chain also hands free. Companies seeking to emphasize safety should focus on designing a contactless end-to-end journey. By doubling down on ease of access and use across digital and physical channels, companies can improve both customer safety and satisfaction.
These changes can be as simple as “touch-free” packaging and online ordering capabilities for some organisations. Obviously, these changes do not happen overnight, however, there are businesses who have made these changes their priority, and the digital transformation that we are seeing is driven by these changes.
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.