PwC: the impact of 5G technology in manufacturing
Technology in manufacturing isn’t a new concept. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is well underway and the influence of robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and machine learning is only becoming increasingly prominent.
In a 2019 study by PwC and the Manufacturing Institute, over half of manufacturers are just beginning to experiment with emerging technologies or haven’t even started yet. 5G promises super-fast, super-flexible wireless communications technology that is already implemented in neighbourhoods globally. It offers highly reliable, near-instantaneous data connectivity, which is an integral part of the vision of smart factories, connected supply chains and IoT-enabled products.
The modern factory is already a highly complex environment. Robots and advanced machinery are all equipped with a plethora of sensors that are connected to high-powered analytics engines in the cloud that assesses performance, manages production schedules, maintains supplies and orchestrates all activities on the factory floor.
After eliminating the need for wired connectivity, 5G will supplement the high-speed manufacturing environment with a far greater degree of flexibility. The sheer richness of the 5G-enabled factory offers the potential to connect to just about anything.
What will 5G enable?
Production optimisation: Capturing real-time data on machines, inventory and production will allow companies to analyse production patterns in far greater detail. With this information, they can identify the proper sequencing of factory activities and maximise flow, helping smooth production cycles and reducing waste.
The modular factory: 5G’s potential density, speed, wide bandwidth and low latency will allow for considerable flexibility. Tools and robots can be repurposed quickly, improving efficiency and creating an environment which allows for mass customisation and manufacturing on demand.
Enterprise connectivity: 5G will allow for the integration of factory infrastructure, operational technology and resources with enterprise IT systems, allowing for further optimisation and remote control of factory processes.
Human-machine interface: The speed and density of 5G is such that it will free staff from computer terminals, providing the means to equip them with mobile data and visualisation solutions, such as tablets and augmented reality gear, enabling visual interaction with machines and products.
Supply chain integration: As transparency into the supply chain increases, having 5G networking integrated into factory tools will allow for fast, automatic replenishment of parts and supplies, which decreases delays and scales efficiency.
Preventive maintenance: Denser arrays of sensors allow companies to monitor the status of equipment more closely. This will enable them to conduct scheduled maintenance when needed, predict the need for unscheduled maintenance before problems arise while enhancing remote diagnostics performed by suppliers of complex equipment.
Safety: The wide range of sensors available and 5G’s near instantaneous response time will create a far more safer manufacturing environment, with fewer people needed on the factory floor and more responsive emergency shut-off signals.
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.