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How does 5G look in industrial IoT

How does 5G look in industrial IoT
5G, the next generation of mobile broadband, has written its first page in history this year, after being launched in countries like the USA, the UK and South Korea. The new technology does not only benefit end consumers, but also manufacturers looking forward to Industry 4.0. Factories utilizing 5G network connections will benefit from faster speeds, lower latency and superior broadband capability.

Which means that more devices will be connected, therefore, higher amounts of data can be transmitted simultaneously, with lower latency improving the data exchange. Remote fleet management, mixed reality in factories, real-time data processing combined with ultra-HD cameras and machine vision, all will be widely deployed in factories using 5G network. In 2020, more industrial IoT applications based on 5G will be seen more often. For manufacturers who are considering deploying 5G, three suggestions for 5G deployment preparation have also been included in this article.

How factories benefit from the latest 5G network

5G is on the horizon, the latest mobile broadband technology will not only benefit the end-user due to improved mobile data transmission, but will also help in realizing the factories of the future – smart factories. Industry 4.0 and 5G are compatible bedfellows that will allow the realization of several industrial IoT applications. Faster speed, lower latency and larger device volume are vital components of industry 4.0 which is critical in the adoption of industrial IoT applications for smart factories.

5G is the next generation of mobile broadband and began operating in 2019. Countries including South Korea, the United States, Switzerland, the UK and Spain have launched 5G commercial networks. While 4G supports up to 100,000 devices per square kilometer, 5G is able to support up to one million devices over the same coverage distance. In addition to the number of supported devices, 5G also has better performance in terms of speed and latency. The peak download speed of 5G is 20 Gb/s and the peak upload speed is 10Gb/s. The air latency target of 5G networks is one to four milliseconds, compared to 50 milliseconds with 4G. This means that 5G enables more devices to become connected while offering superior connection speed and lower latency. But, how can industrial IoT (IIoT) benefit from the latest technological advances?

5G connects the unconnected

Erik Josefsson, Vice President & Head of
Advanced Industries, Ericsson
“You will be able to ‘connect the unconnected,’ start to connect assets and areas that before wasn’t economically viable,” said Erik Josefsson, Vice President & Head of Advanced Industries, Ericsson. With current Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network, factories can reach up to 10 years battery life and start to get coverage that can offer more penetration, for example, multiple parking levels in a parking facility.

With 5G’s lower frequency standard, it will enable wide area coverage and capacity allowing factories to widely distribute sensors in more locations. The amount of connected devices will see a colossal increase after widespread implementation of 5G coverage. “You will be able to run more applications on the edge. Moving Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and computing power from machines to introduce new digital services in real time,” said Josefsson. “With down to 1 millisecond latency and up to 20Gb/s bandwidth, new applications like full immersive experience with Virtual Reality (VR), remote control with haptic feedback and time sensitive networking with collaborative robots are coming to life. Ultra-reliable communication with high security will enable industrial sites to become flexible and eliminate cabling.”

5G solves the unsolved

“The problems of today’s IIoT are basically twofold: lack of mobility for IIoT using wired systems, and lack of reliability and real-time communication for IIoT using Wi-Fi,” said Jens Jakobsen, HMS Labs Development Manager, HMS Networks. Automated guided vehicles in indoor logistics, for example, are currently guided by magnetic stripes or wires on the floor or by surrounded sensors. However, it isn’t ideal as other moving objects and humans are around. The same inconvenience happens on mobile robots as well.

“IIoT using Wi-Fi is additionally struggling with interference and network congestion,” said Jakobsen. “Too many devices around operating in the same frequency band (2.4 GHz), plus ‘canyons of steel’ in factories reduce the quality of signal transmission significantly. So, for many industrial solutions current wireless systems are not reliable enough, which is a limiting factor for using wireless for more industrial applications (e.g. PLC).” 5G will hopefully solve the issue, bringing mobilityand reliability to connected devices in the industrial setting. “IIoT will become more mobile with 5G. There will be less problems with packet loss when the signal of a mobile device is handed over from one base station to another,” said Jakobsen. The high reliability and unified connectivity of 5G are also expected to replace wireline industrial Ethernet for reconfigurable factories.

5G is said to be up to 100 times more energy efficient than 4G and 4G LTE. Which means that more battery-powered sensors can be deployed, even in hard-to-reach locations. “5G has the potential for the first time to become the world's largest innovation platform for digital transformation of industries,” said Josefsson.

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