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Making 5G Smart Manufacturing mainstream status through collaborative innovation

Male factory worker with tablet next to a robotic arm

The industrial domain is the biggest market segment for enterprise private wireless and was expected to have the most promising potential of the 5G era beyond the traditional consumer broadband services. While Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) and digitalization has significantly accelerated over the last 10 years for use cases such as connected workers, worker safety and machine digital twins, the adoption of 5G in particular has thus far fallen short of these prospects as often private wireless LTE was deployed.

The 5G alliance for connected industries and automation

That’s why Nokia participates actively in the industry fora to find ways to reach this potential. For example, Nokia is a founding member of the 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA), the central forum for shaping 5G in the industrial enterprise marketplace. In this one industry engagement group of nearly 100 companies, various players from around the world are jointly creating a new merged Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Operational Technology (OT) ecosystem to turn the manufacturing business into a seamless, connected organization and set the frameworks for a highly attractive emerging market.

It’s a forum where industrial automation enterprises, machine builders and end users come together with chip manufacturers, network infrastructure providers and mobile network operators to apply industrial 5G in the best possible way. These members strive to make sure that the industrial domain is adequately understood and considered in 5G standardization and regulation, and conversely, the resulting 5G capabilities are familiar to its users in the industrial domain.

Due to its unique position 5G-ACIA is the kind of forum that is especially valuable to Nokia, who leads the market with a strong portfolio and over 700 customers in private wireless. The deep discussions held with companies from the industrial domain to complete 5G-ACIA reports and whitepapers have contributed greatly to finding common language and understanding.

But 5G Industrial IoT is not yet in the mainstream and our leadership in 5G-ACIA helps engage the industry to drive it in that direction.

5G private wireless for industrial scenarios

One example of that impact is the publishing of the recent white paper that Nokia was driving, devoted to private wireless networks for Industrial Scenarios.

The paper expands on non-public networks (NPN), which are also known as private networks or more generally private wireless. It looks closely at examples of actual 5G private wireless deployments for use cases in three different scenarios: in a manufacturing building, in a large-scale process industry and in an industrial park containing several of these enterprises. 5G private wireless is the main way to implement 5G in the industrial segment and provides the industrial enterprise with the best control and visibility to the network. 5G private wireless is already used for industrial applications today but we discuss the different aspects that affect selecting the deployment options that support the use cases based on standard technology and in line with the market offering today.

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The key finding of the white paper is the importance of deploying private wireless locally on industrial premises to meet the demanding quality of service (QoS) and privacy requirements. When considering the 3GPP-defined options for private wireless, the Standalone NPN (SNPN) is the most obvious choice for the presented industrial scenarios, but the Public Network Integrated NPN (PNI-NPN) can also be deployed locally and can perform equally well.

These conclusions will be presented by me further later this month at the upcoming Hannover Messe industrial trade fair, in a talk titled: “Private Network Deployments in Industrial Scenarios.”

5G zero touch production testbed

Another example of our involvement in 5G-ACIA is in the 5G Zero Touch Production Testbed we conducted at Aalborg University, one of our distinguished academic partners, that demonstrated a fully-automated 5G-connected Industry 4.0 production environment. Made in collaboration with Spain’s University of Oviedo and the Festo automation company, the testbed integrated Festo stationary production modules with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) equipped with robotic manipulators.

All the control flows were operated over a Nokia private 5G network with FR1, FR2 and Edge-Cloud computing capabilities. FR1 consists of sub-6 GHz frequencies, while FR2 comprises millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies ranging from 24 GHz to 100 GHz.

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On March 19, the testbed demonstrated a combination of 5G FR1 and FR2 technologies to both achieve full coverage reliability and extreme capacity. In it, mobile robots equipped with vision capability and a robotic arm pick up products from a conveyer belt using AI-assisted image processing to detect if the product is ready for pick up for packing.   


Together, these two examples illustrate the upside of 5G-ACIA and our commitment to make enterprises and industries more productive by doing joint research on the most precious challenges so that we can provide them with the best possible standards for 5G private wireless solutions.

Atte  Lansisalmi

About Atte Lansisalmi

Atte is Principal Standardization Lead at Nokia standardization in Espoo, Finland. With over 30 years of experience, Atte is a seasoned expert in standardization, having contributed extensively to technical standards within 3GPP and other forums, as well as overseeing internal project management at Nokia. In recent years, Atte has dedicated his focus to Industrial IoT, demonstrating a keen enthusiasm for facilitating collaboration between OT and ICT industries to harness the power of 5G in driving the Industry 4.0 transformation.

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