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Modernizing the world’s most mission-critical operations in the industry 4.0 era

Modernizing the world’s most mission-critical operations in the industry 4.0 era



The network that connects a hospital must stay up-to-date and simply cannot afford to go down. We discuss some ways to modernize – all while ensuring resilience and security.

By Chris Johnson, SVP and Global Head of Enterprise at Nokia
As seen in Forbes

Mission-critical networks are the underpinning of infrastructure that support the essential functions and services of a business, government, economy, or society – from first responders and hospitals to power grids, air traffic control, and railway systems. 

Data and applications on these networks demand the highest uptime, performance, and security. Any degradation or outage could have significant – even life-threatening – consequences. This level of risk is why many mission-critical organizations are hesitant to change what’s working “well enough.”

But "well enough" will quickly become insufficient in the digital era as other industrial sectors and segments of society embrace Industry 4.0 digitalization. Rather than seeing an increase in efficiency, productivity, savings, safety and sustainability, those that need to catch up will be challenged to embrace valuable applications as operating and support costs increase.

A mission-critical operation shouldn’t automatically exclude an organization from experiencing the significant benefits of Industry 4.0 digitalization. So, what’s the best way to modernize and transition to more digitalized and connected business models while ensuring resilience and security?

Modern means more

Today’s fixed and mobile networks include a range of built-in technologies to maximize uptime, prevent failures and contain security threats. “Fixed” networks based on IP and optical technologies have well-established capabilities to ensure reliability, resiliency, and security while delivering the high-speed, low-latency performance Industry 4.0 applications require.

Network operators can supplement IP networking with field-proven Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology for fast, secure, scalable, and bandwidth-efficient network services for critical Industry 4.0 applications. 

Riding over optical transport, the network can offer a wide range of powerful, integrated security features to protect data and ensure regulatory compliance. Industry 4.0 can also protect networks and utilities from climate change-induced environmental events.

These networks provide built-in redundancy so that if one or more routes fail, data can still be moved to another, ensuring it reaches its destination no matter what. At the same time, integrated alerts can resolve issues with little downtime.

Fiber optics combine the highest available capacity and resilience with any network's most secure transmission foundation. They’re ideal for connected Industry 4.0 infrastructure, enabling everything from stationary robotics to safety mechanisms deployed in hazardous and harsh environments.

Mission-critical leaders in the spotlight

As a study of how mission-critical operations can benefit from Industry 4.0 technologies, the energy sector provides some strong examples. 

Power grids are undeniably essential, and outages significantly disrupt day-to-day life. Many US-based consumers and businesses still recall the highly publicized ransomware attack on the Colonial Gas pipeline in 2021 that led to fuel shortages, drove up prices, grounded aircraft, and prompted a national security threat declaration. 

Industry 4.0 prevents and reduces outages and attacks by providing the foundation for advanced security technologies and applications. With the right digital technologies, operators can monitor their infrastructure and take proactive measures to prevent such incidents.

Energy providers can gain much by "going Industry 4.0."  They face increased pressure to balance electricity supply and demand and incorporate more renewable and local sources of electricity while making the grid more resilient to cyber and environmental threats. 

Modern networks that allow more intelligence to be injected and extracted from infrastructure operations are required, including ultra-low-latency mobile broadband, IP, and optical transport.

Industry 4.0 digitalization also opens up new business opportunities for organizations in the sector. In Spain, Red Electrica’s modernized network will support new, Industry 4.0-enabled applications that help to manage better grid assets and distribute energy resources like rooftop solar arrays and storage systems.

Transportation is another sector where Industry 4.0 can be revolutionary. In Germany, Deutsche Bahn is working with Nokia to build a standalone 5G network to allow fully automated trains to be controlled in real-time with an intelligent traffic management system, increasing capacity and ensuring safer, always-on-time operations. 

And in Western Australia, the Public Transportation Authority is modernizing the existing metro railway communications network. The rejuvenation involves building an advanced high-tech wireless digital platform on a mission-critical IP/MPLS network. Connected to a dedicated private cloud, it will enable mission-critical voice, high-speed data, and video services while delivering improved mobility benefits.

Embracing evolution

Mission-critical infrastructure operators can safely deliver their essential services with modernized networks built with the highest resiliency. These modernized networks can enable advanced Industry 4.0 applications while keeping systems up and running 24/7, just as they did before.