Ericsson pre-packs private LTE and 5G for factories and warehouses
Ericsson has launched a private network solution that seeks to simplify the deployment and management of private LTE and 5G networks for industrial enterprises with no prior experience of cellular network operations.
Compatriot transport company Scania has already implemented the package, dubbed Ericsson Industry Connect, in its smart production lab in Södertälje, in Sweden.
The solution, initially for private LTE, offers a pathway to 5G, said Ericsson. It affords information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) professional an “easy-to-use… network management experience”, said the Swedish vendor. “The solution aims to make cellular technology rapidly deployable for factory and warehouse staff,” it said.
It cited private LTE as an enabler of sensor-heavy digital twin inspections, mobility for human machine interface (HMI) instructions for workers, collision avoidance and remote control for autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), and collaborative robotics for automated operations.
Ericsson’s stance on private networks has been more conservative than Finnish rival Nokia’s, where it has said it will stay behind its traditional operator customers in the cellular market’s outreach to industrial enterprises.
Åsa Tamsons, senior vice president and head of business area technologies and new businesses at the Swedish vendor, the new offer “complements service providers’ offerings to enterprises” with a solution that is easy to scale. “Ericsson Industry Connect increases the relevance of cellular solutions in the high growing segment of industrial connectivity,” she said.
Ericsson is addressing two major trends in the industrial internet-of-things (IoT) space with the announcement: the drive for greater simplicity and greater control from IoT systems. The vendor community has sought in recent months to simplify the sale and setup of IoT systems for enterprises, which have a vested interest at the same time in private networks to provide ultra reliability to critical control systems.
Ericsson has redefined its portfolio and vision for cellular IoT technologies in four categories, including two new segments for Broadband IoT and Industrial Automation IoT. It said the objective of the exercise is to “outline the evolution” of IoT technologies, to encompass higher-powered LTE and 5G applications, and to expand operators’ remit in the IoT space beyond a few initial use cases, which mostly fall into its Massive IoT segment.
Pierce Owen, principal analyst at ABI Research, said: “The technology case for private LTE has existed for some time now, but with Industry Connect, Ericsson has productized that technology in a way that empowers implementers and operators to deliver the benefits of private LTE to factories and warehouses with a real business case.”
Tamsons commented: “Ericsson Industry Connect is built on design thinking to meet industrial customers’ requirements on speed, reliability and security, while being easy to install and manage. It helps enterprises to accelerate their automation and operational efficiency to the next level.
Roger Hartonen, senior manager of industrial IT at Scania Group, said: “High quality, fast, and secure connectivity of our industrial environment is now an absolute must for us. Ericsson Industry Connect gives us reliable wireless connectivity which will enable flexibility for us on the factory floor. At Scania, we are driving the shift toward sustainable transport by continuously innovating our manufacturing processes”