Industry 4.0: Transforming the world’s factory
Industry 4.0 technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and artificial intelligence, can complement skilled workers in the manufacturing sector and transform how factories are run. Fueled by connectivity and data, these solutions help manufacturers automate operations, generate actionable insights and save time and cost.
Manufacturers today face unprecedented pressure, with rising operational and market challenges. They must manage evermore complex global supply chains and new logistics models, embrace new ways of working, and cope with the constant threat of cyberattacks. At the same time, customers are demanding more customised products and yet customer loyalty is more difficult to maintain as competition intensifies. Plus, all of this is playing out against the backdrop of a growing skilled-labor shortage.
At AT&T, we work to bring all the right components together for our customers - edge-to-edge – from the premise to the cloud and to the endpoints, and all wrapped in security. To help solve industry specific challenges, like those specific to manufacturing, we recently launched a vertical industry-focused space at the AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas, providing enterprise customers with a venue to co-create innovative technologies.
For instance, the space will use 5G-enabled network slicing in a manufacturing shop floor to demonstrate the separation of the network for operational equipment efficiency. It also can employ technology to transform the retail buying experience for consumers through solutions like digital signage, IoT-enabled smart shelving and auto-inventory tracking.
To some, 5G seems like a long way into the future. But we are already there. In late October, we successfully completed the world’s first millimetre wave mobile 5G browsing session with a standards-based device on a mobile 5G network. It’s this 5G know-how that is propelling us forward to a real-world understanding of how 5G can impact manufacturing.
Along with Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC., we’re working towards the future of Industry 4.0 connected manufacturing. The idea is to provide insights into the future of a smart factory. We’re working together to explore use cases and technologies such as industrial IoT sensors that monitor for environmental and equipment conditions like vibration, temperature and speed as well as location services to improve safety. 5G promises to someday have a significant impact on manufacturing by unlocking new experiences in AR, powerful machine learning and intelligent robotics.
Through our work, we’ve seen increasing numbers of ambitious manufacturing companies harnessing faster networks, IoT and other technologies to relieve business pressures. IoT solutions can drive operational efficiencies to improve sustainability and control costs through better inventory management and improved asset utilisation.
Key outcomes that are already achievable with IoT solutions on a reliable and flexible core network include:
Workforce productivity: Manufacturers can empower employees with mobility solutions to bring insight onto the factory floor and improve productivity. Examples include mobile asset management, quality inspections for materials and components, and worker safety monitoring and support.
Predictive maintenance: Remotely monitoring equipment with IoT helps ensure that machines are properly calibrated for optimal efficiency and high-quality output. This condition monitoring also enables predictive maintenance, which can help manufacturers save time and money by repairing or replacing equipment before it fails.
- GE announces the launch of $1.2bn industrial IoT software business
- Ball Corporation agrees to sell its metal beverage packaging facilities in China
- Vivo aims to invest Rs 4,000 crore in a new manufacturing plant in India
Supply chain management: Tracking the location of assets in transit lets manufacturers predict when shipments will arrive. Paired with near real-time analytics, fleet solutions can provide end-to-end visibility of goods throughout the supply chain. AT&T Fleet Complete gives business and government customers an all-in-one fleet, asset and mobile-worker tracking and management solution. It’s a unique approach that lets companies assess their vehicles, assets and drivers from a single platform. It also integrates with other AT&T products and services such as navigation systems.
Near real-time insights: With IoT sensors and other devices deployed on the factory floor and throughout the supply chain, manufacturers have an opportunity to gain near real-time actionable insights via data analytics. But this requires an IoT asset management platform that supports multiple devices, communication protocols, networks and cloud environments, and that integrates with existing enterprise systems.
IoT in action: data and insights on a global scale
One global manufacturer, for example, turned to IoT to enhance its performance in all these areas. As a leader in the design, production and servicing of commercial products, it embeds connectivity inside the goods and services it brings to market. Allied with a global mobility solution, this provides access to near real-time information and insights for the firm’s research and development teams and its service technicians in the field. Remote technicians are further supported with a fleet management solution to promote safety and efficiency.
Back on the factory floor, Wi-Fi coverage and end-to-end network services provide on-demand capabilities to help the company optimise operations and more easily scale capacity up or down to cope with business fluctuations.
Overall, this combination of connectivity and data helps create a complete understanding of the company’s assets, from manufacturing equipment to inventory, vehicles, installed units and people, and their individual capacity and performance. Finally, to ensure that this information remains a competitive advantage, and not a liability, the entire network is secured through the cloud.
While this manufacturer is both large and global, it is not unique in its need for increased operational insight. IoT solutions can help manufacturing companies of any size to scale and respond in near real-time to their operational and market challenges.
The future of manufacturing is already here through IoT and on-demand, next-generation networking technologies. What makes the shift to Industry 4.0 even more exciting is that it goes far beyond manufacturing to transform not only how modern factories work, but also how things are designed, used and serviced.
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.