Huawei explores robots-as-a-service for smart manufacturing
The vision is for smart manufacturing applications to be supported by a dedicated 5G network slice
5G is about a lot more than simply higher mobile data rates. The ultra high capacity and ultra low latency of 5G could support a wide range of valuable industries like oil and gas, mining and manufacturing. The digital transformation from more traditional manufacturing to smart manufacturing is poised to come on the back of internet of things-type applications–like the use of industrial robotics to reduce error and drive efficiency–supported by next generation network technologies.
To advance adoption of smart manufacturing technologies, network infrastructure company Huawei is partnering with German industrial automation and control specialist Festo. The companies said the focus on “5G cloud robotics” will look to test a robots-as-a-service business model “that supports the shift from mass production to mass customization…According to this concept, computation is moved from the robot to the fabrication cloud.” And the link between the robot and cloud would come over a 5G network.
Dirk Pensky, head of Festo’s Software Engineering Department, said in a smart factory “everyone and everything will stay connected to rely on manufacturing services provided in industrial clouds. On the one hand, some of those services need high bandwidth to transfer information to and/or from the cloud, e.g. image processing and AR/VR services. On the other hand, industrial control services require low to ultra-low latency and highest reliability,” he explained. “Festo is involved in different activities to shape the future of our factories. 5G will become the communication technology for smart manufacturing and we aim to prove that with this cooperation.”
5G systems are expected to be built in a way to enable logical network slices, which will allow telecom operators to provide networks on an as-a-service basis and meet the wide range of use cases that the 2020 timeframe is expected to demand. In a single 5G system, network slicing technology can provide connectivity for smart meters with a network slice that connects “internet of things” devices with a high availability and high reliability data-only service, with a given latency, data rate and security level. At the same time, the technology can provide another network slice with very high throughput, high data speeds and low latency for an augmented reality service.
“Mobile communications networks are developing and evolving rapidly, and will gradually penetrate a variety of vertical industries,” said Yang Chaobin, President of Huawei’s 5G Network Product Line. “5G will meet the diversified network needs of industry, enabling more vertical industry applications with end-to-end slicing solutions. Huawei, as a leading provider of wireless network solutions, will work with vertical industries to explore new 5G applications and create greater value. Our cooperation with Festo will promote development of an intelligent manufacturing industry.”