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5G enables private networks for Industry 4.0

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Article by: Jessy Cavazos, Keysight Technologies

Enabling 5G private network use cases, especially for Industry 4.0, demands high network performance.

Private 5G networks are on the rise. Private 5G network revenues will grow from $1.6 billion in 2021 to $65 billion in 2030¹. But the road to 5G private networks is paved with challenges that span all stages of the network lifecycle, from deployment to operations.

Enabling 5G private network use cases, especially for Industry 4.0, demands high network performance. All network components must operate at peak performance, and end-to-end network performance must be optimal. Only testing the RAN network during site acceptance leads to the creation of blind spots.

Overcoming these challenges requires a solid understanding of 5G private network use cases and their requirements. You should also know the underlying standards, deployment options, and key 5G features enabling these networks.

Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), Time-Aware Networking (TSN), and 5G system security features are critical to enabling 5G private networks for Industry 4.0 use cases. MEC provides the 5G system with real-time knowledge, TSN enables the connection of industrial devices to a mobile network and provides the ability to control them, and the security features of the 5G architecture increase the security of the private network.

Mobile Access Edge Computing (MEC)
MEC physically brings computing power closer to the user and helps reduce latency. MEC also helps offload computing demands from compute-intensive devices like augmented reality (AR) glasses and wireless robots. It helps offload the computing needs of these devices to an edge computer using a 5G data link and makes the glasses/robots lighter and more energy efficient.

Figure 1 shows an example AR device using a 5G private network. AR glasses will help increase worker safety, provide remote assistance, and train workers in an increasingly complex environment, among other benefits. In this example, a camera built into an AR device takes images and sends them to a processing server. The processing server determines the camera’s current field of view and the optimal placement of previously recorded augmentations in the current frame. It then renders the augmented image and sends it back to the AR glasses for display. Increases in field of view should closely follow the movements of the AR device without introducing distortions. This use case requires large computational capacities, high uplink and downlink data rates, and low latency.

Figure 1 Example of a 5G private network leveraging edge computing for an AR use case. (Source: Korea Institute of Electronic Technology)

Time sensitive networks (TSN)

Another important feature for 5G private networks is TSN support. This functionality is a key enabler for factory automation. The low latency features built into 5G can create an urgent end-to-end communication channel that spans an entire infrastructure.

Many private 5G networks will be deployed in existing factories with wireline communication infrastructure being adopted from wired TSN. Translation of wired TSN capabilities to 5G (and vice versa) is important to enable Industry 4.0 applications. Figure 2 provides a typical 5G architecture supporting TSN.

Figure 2 5G network with TSN support.

Security

Security is another important aspect to consider when deploying a 5G private network. The 5G architecture (Figure 3) includes significant security improvements over previous generations of cellular technology, including stronger and more secure encryption and authentication systems.

The architecture of the 5G network is designed to take the security measures necessary for the various services provided by a network, whether it is a voice call, the control of a robotic function or the collection of data from hundreds of sensors.

picture 3 3GPP 5G security architecture.

The rise of 5G private networks

5G adoption in manufacturing is on the rise. In a recent survey² of senior executives from 1,000 industry organizations, 30% said they were at the pilot stage or beyond and 40% expected to deploy 5G at scale at a single site within the next two coming years.

Additionally, many enterprises (64%) said they plan to adopt 5G-based edge computing services within the next three years and more than a third of industrial organizations surveyed said they would prefer to deploy private 5G networks.

However, 5G private networks present significant challenges for manufacturers and their partners. They must ensure network coverage, connectivity and stability. Achieving this goal requires a full network lifecycle strategy.

Learn more about 5G private networks by listening to Keysight experts on the All Things 5G podcast episodes “Supercharging Dedicated Private Networks” and “Time-Sensitive Networks Go Wireless”.

The references

  1. ABI Research, “Monetizing 5G Edge Networks”, Q3 2021
  2. Accelerating the 5G Industrial Revolution: State of 5G and edge in industrial operations report, Capgemini Research Institute, 2021

About the Author

Jessy Cavazos joined Keysight’s Industrial Solutions Marketing team in January 2019 with a focus on 5G. Prior to this, Jessy was Industry Manager for the Test & Measurement practice at Frost & Sullivan. She joined the global consulting and market research firm in 2002 and has followed the test and measurement industry for over 15 years. Jessy has authored numerous market studies highlighting key opportunities and disruptive trends and has been featured in leading publications. Jessy holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from the Institut de Formation Internationale located in Rouen, France.