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Accelerate your factory digitalization with a private 4G/5G network solution

Learn how a private 4.9G/LTE or 5G network can help you use data insights and automation to make your factory safer, greener and more productive.

Is the manufacturing sector ready for private wireless networks?

Many companies across a variety of industries are now testing and validating private wireless technology through proof of concepts and field trials to understand its benefits.

Nokia, in conjunction with ABI Research, recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 senior executives in organizations across manufacturing segments including automotive, machinery, metal fabrication, electronics, consumer goods, chemical and oil and gas.

More than 90% said they were considering 4G/5G as part of their mission-critical, control, and communications network upgrades, while 38% said they would use 4G/5G as their primary technology supporting mission-critical operations

Is there widespread commercial deployment yet?

There is clearly considerable interest across many manufacturing sectors. As well as field trials, some manufacturers have driven ahead with commercial deployments. However, the adoption process is still at a very early stage.  

One reason is that manufacturers typically have a long factory asset lifecycle, which by definition makes the adoption of new technology a slow process. Also, manufacturers are under constant pressure to keep up with demand and production schedules. Introducing downtime by implementing new technology is not an option.

dave-nowoswiat

Dave Nowoswiat

Head of Marketing for Manufacturing, Nokia Enterprise

It must also be remembered that 5G is an emerging technology designed specifically around industrial applications. Many of the features and functionality that manufacturers want still lie in the future – such as time-sensitive networking, high-accuracy location and positioning, and 5G industrial IoT.  

There will also be a delay while standards are defined, and while chipset manufacturers produce the silicon for these features and functionality, which then has to be integrated into the relevant machines. All this means that it may be a while before we see widespread adoption. 

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What will the benefits of private networks be for manufacturing?  

The adoption of private wireless networking, together with edge computing, will be a foundational next-generation infrastructure that will enable manufacturers to become more productive and flexible.  

It will deliver the ability to upgrade processes that existing technologies use, such as machines being tethered to an ethernet cable, or wireless systems that work only with a certain type of technology, such as Bluetooth or LoRa.  

LTE/5G private networks are poised to harmonize and simplify future network operations for manufacturers. They will also enable the deployment of more automation, such as mobile robots that can increase the speed and throughput of material handling.  

Such networks facilitate the use of HD video for inspection for quality control, which brings reduced waste and increased output that help to meet sustainability goals.  

One of the most important benefits is in the area of worker safety, which is of primary importance to manufacturers. Equipping teams with personal protective gear fitted with wireless sensing devices, for example, means supervisors can be alerted to a hazardous situation such as a gas leak.  

Examples of Nokia enabling industrial sites to deploy private wireless 

  1. Butachimie, an operator with a chemical plant in France. It wanted to reduce production costs and simplify its overall manufacturing processes. In partnership with Orange Business Services, Nokia deployed a private 4G wireless network solution that supported systems such as closed-caption TV, push-to-talk, push-to-video, and industrial IoT sensing.
  2. Arcelik, a multi-national appliance manufacturer, where Nokia participated in the deployment of Turkey’s first 5G-ready private wireless network at a washing machine manufacturer.
  3. Alibaba, the largest retail e-commerce company in the world, for which Nokia deployed a private wireless network in a 30,000-square-meter warehouse connecting more than 100 automatic guided vehicles that delivered a sizeable increase in efficiency.  

Five tips for a manufacturer considering the deployment of cellular infrastructure  

  1. Do not delay in starting this journey. With the world situation unstable, there are persuasive reasons to hold off deployment – but there may never be an ideal time to get under way. Start with a few use cases where improvement is most urgently needed.
  2. Define your KPIs for success – and make sure you get buy-in from IT and OT within your organization. All your teams will have to be on board to enable successful adoption.
  3. Select use cases that have achievable results within a relatively short space of time – ideally, in less than 12 months. For example, replacing a legacy Tetra voice network with an LTE network that supports video and high-speed data rates can deliver tangible benefits almost immediately.
  4. Add some industrial IoT sensors to existing machines and processes that are experiencing higher than expected down times. By combining the data generated with that produced by the machines already, you should improve your condition-based monitoring and be able to roll out predictive maintenance programs.
  5. After your initial success, you can graduate to more advanced use cases such as the introduction of autonomous mobile robots to improve overall efficiencies.    

Above all, your deployment journey does not have to be undertaken alone. There is a burgeoning ecosystem of partners with the technical knowledge and expertise that will work to understand your business needs – trust them with your digital transformation process.

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