5G manufacturing use case spotlight: Factory floor communications
How 5G could improve factory floor communications?
Factory or plant floor communications refers to the control and data communications typically found in automation environments, on a manufacturing plant floor or process plant.
According to Telit, IIoT on the factory floor was challenging to implement because proprietary software and hardware from various vendors made machine-to-machine communication very complicated. “To streamline those connections, industry leaders developed the Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA) protocol, typically implemented over a time-sensitive network (TSN). Together, 5G and OPC UA over TSN will enable fully integrated, low-latency networking for factories that yields better reliability and greater control to plant managers,” said Marco Contento, vice president of 5G Technologies at Telit.
“In a 5G-driven smart factory, thousands of sensors at floor level can send a continuous stream of data to the cloud. Meanwhile, wireless transmitters called small cells sit close to, or even on the factory site, ensuring superior coverage and signal penetration. This robust network ecosystem can in turn help managers better monitor quality, increase speed, respond to supply fluctuations and simplify workflows, U.S. carrier Verizon said.
Throughout this 5G-linked factory, devices from all stages of production can communicate simultaneously. When they do, systems can detect quality issues and prevent defects before products reach market, increasing public safety and saving manufacturers money, the carrier added.
In a previous report, ABI Research noted that in order to lower entry barriers for 5G deployment and attract potential implementers, network operators need to move away from business models purely relying on selling connectivity. “To give manufacturers a flavor of 5G on the factory floor, they should develop more creative business and spectrum licensing models and use these as a foundation to start developing attractive pricing models for additional network capabilities (such as network slicing, a particularly high bandwidth or particularly low latency),” ABI Research said.
“To successfully target manufacturers, operators need to focus their efforts on targeting large Tier One manufacturers as a first step, as they are more prepared to invest into new technology than Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). In doing so, they need to understand, however, that targeting large manufacturers as keen early implementers can only be the first step, while most manufacturing companies are SMEs,” ABI Research added.
Before deploying 5G on the factory floor, manufacturers need to have a solid automation strategy, as well as clearly conceivable and realistic use cases, the research firm added. “Manufacturers should currently consider private cellular 4G as a best-of-breed connectivity technology and 5G as a foundation to create more advanced use cases on-premises.”
For more 5G manufacturing content, check out the following:
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