Home5GFujitsu tests private 5G for equipment inspection, remote recovery at data centres

Fujitsu tests private 5G for equipment inspection, remote recovery at data centres

Japanese IT firm Fujitsu is to start testing private 5G for equipment inspection at its major data centre in Yokohama, in the Kanagawa prefecture, as a springboard to drive “operational resilience and process automation” in the broader data centre market. The Fujitsu project, to run for a little over three months from December to mid-March next year, was selected by the Japanese government as a private 5G testbed – for “challenge-solving local 5G in fiscal 2022”.

Fujitsu will build an indoor private 5G network in the 4.8-4.9 GHz spectrum band, as reserved by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) for local enterprise usage, and also run tests on it, specifically related to the performance of autonomous robots patrolling the equipment and facilities. Robots will be fixed and connected with 4K cameras to make early detection of abnormalities and offer remote support for field workers.

A statement described the project scenario: “A robot equipped with a 4K camera performs unmanned patrol monitoring to detect abnormalities in the operating status of server equipment (LED lamp lighting status) and promptly notifies the operator via the private 5G network in the event of any abnormality.” The testing will also verify 5G for “remote support for system recovery work through video and audio transmission”.

Fujitsu said it wants to “create a system” for condition monitoring and remote recovery in the event of a “disaster or emergency”. The 5G network will also support “detection and blocking of unauthorised communications”. The government’s interest in the project is linked with its ‘Digital Garden City Nation’ scheme, which calls for new regional data centre facilities to reduce the risk of digital blackouts from strikes on centralised cloud infrastructure.

The network in Yokohama will run over a distributed antenna system in a server room with a “low ceiling and many tall barriers”, plus an electric room with “high-voltage cables laid on the ceiling”. The trial will check and resolve radio wave propagation in the environment, to define a blueprint for other data centre installations. Fujitsu is handling the system build and evaluation; the Fujitsu Research Institute will use the findings for “future horizontal development”.

A statement said: “Fujitsu plans to utilise the knowledge gained from this trial to implement similar systems in its own data centres, and by providing the results of its efforts as a solution to other data centre operators, contribute to the development of resilient social infrastructure that supports the Japanese government’s vision for a Digital Garden City Nation. The key to stable data centres is high quality maintenance and inspection and rapid recovery

It went on: “However, the decrease in the working population and difficulties in securing talent, remains a challenge in many parts of Japan, and this shortage is especially acute in rural areas. Maintaining and improving inspection quality with a limited number of personnel and reducing workload represent an urgent issue for data centre operators.”

Fujitsu revealed a portfolio of private 5G products and services in 2020, to serve the Industry 4.0 movement. It has a revenue target of ¥100 billion (about $9.5 billion) from private 5G-related sales by the end of fiscal 2025, ending (March 31, 2026). Ericsson, Intel, Keysight Technologies, and Qualcomm are providing the networking gear, chipsets, and testing behind the proposition.

It is working with US-Japanese cyber-security company Trend Micro on the security of private 5G networks. The pair are using a simulated smart factory environment at a Fujitsu factory in Japan to run the rule over Trend Micro’s private-5G security product, they have said. Separately, and among many projects, it has a collaboration with AWS to accelerate the digital transformation in the financial and retail industries with new services to be built on AWS.

It is also working with major Japanese imaging and electronics firm Ricoh Company to accelerate its IoT sensor and data usage at process manufacturing facilities in Japan, starting at a chemical plant in the city of Numazu, in the middle of the country. Fujitsu is to deploy an industrial IoT data analytics and visualisation platform at the site, which it is calling a ‘smart factory’, to help Ricoh monitor changes in plant operations and product quality.

Meanwhile, other MIC projects, under the “challenge-solving local 5G” banner, are unclear. But Japan’s MIC has a parallel private 5G scheme, “local 5G for regional issues”, which focuses on remote (non-urban) agriculture and healthcare, primarily, and is being funded as part of its ‘Digital Garden City Nation’ project, as well – in the name of “rural-urban digital integration and transformation”.

Iwamizawa City on Hokkaido, an agricultural centre on the country’s most northerly island, was chosen in 2020 for one of the MIC projects, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The demonstration in 2020 featured collaboration with NTT Group and Hokkaido University, and involved the remote monitoring and control of smart farm machinery (“robot tractors… between rice paddies”) over a 5G connection.

Further north, a number of 5G-connected agricultural robots, built using recycled motors and batteries from Toyota Prius cars, were deployed in Urausu-cho for spraying pesticides and cutting grass. At Nagasaki University Hospital (NUH), in the south, doctors have used a local 5G network to connect endoscopic cameras to detect oesophageal cancer, and to run remote surgeries and training – up 100 kilometres away, across the sea, on the Goto islands.

On a more commercial footing, and in line with the country’s key 4.8-4.9 GHz spectrum release, operator NTT East has selected Samsung to expand its private 5G business in the country. The deal follows a series of tests in 2021 to verify Samsung’s private 5G network solutions on NTT East’s network. The pair have been actively offering private 5G network services to enterprise customers since the summer. Samsung is also implementing a private 5G network at Japanese service provider Optage’s plant facility, to support 4K live-streaming throughout the plant.

Local Japanese telco KATCH is looking to hoover up Industry 4.0 contracts among automotive and high-tech manufacturers in the Aichi Prefecture, in Japan, after appointing Finnish vendor Nokia and local systems integrator CTC to deploy a dedicated private 5G network in the region. KATCH wants to offer “autonomous industrial-grade private 5G” to enterprises and manufacturing companies in the Mikawa region, in the eastern half of the Aichi Prefecture. Nokia called the province a “nerve centre” and an “Industry 4.0… hotbed” [for] manufacturing.

Overseas, manufacturing group Mitsubishi Electric has inducted country-mate NTT Docomo into its new Industry 4.0 alliance in Thailand in order to offer private 5G with smart manufacturing solutions from other partners. Mitsubishi Electric called it “the first case of private 5G with Japanese equipment” – in Thailand. The pair will build a new private 5G setup in the country by the end of the summer, strategically located for the government’s Thailand 4.0 project.

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