5G in the industry is closely linked to the campus network projects of the major car manufacturers. These can rightly be considered pioneers in the field, but there are also exciting application scenarios for the technology elsewhere in industry and production.
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A digital twin is the virtual image of real things such as machines, systems or products. The concept differs from other 3D models (e.g. in CAD) in that it is not static, but the current state of the analogue object is mirrored in quasi-real time. This way, parameters such as utilization and wear and tear can also be recorded in the digital model. In this way, the digital twins enable, for example, machine predictive maintenance and repair.
With this concept, machine downtimes can be avoided or greatly reduced since wear and tear can be detected before a defect occurs. Another promising area of application for digital twins is in the area of supply chains, where bottlenecks can be better-recognized thanks to digital images. By 2027 over 90 per cent of all IoT platforms will have digital twin integration capabilities. 5G connections offer the capacity and low latency needed to exchange large amounts of (sensor) data for real-time processing.
Robotics As A Service
The automotive industry pioneered factory robots with huge investments in automated production facilities. However, other industries are catching up, and the need for technology is growing. However, the investment hurdles often need to be lowered for other sectors. This leads to increased interest in “Robotics as a Service” – a concept in which the robot manufacturer not only leases the machines to a company but also operates, monitors and maintains them remotely. For such use cases, high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity, such as that offered by 5G, is essential between the robots on the factory floor and the operator’s data center so that telemetry data, as well as high-resolution images and videos, can be transmitted.
One of the pioneers in setting up a productive 5G campus network for its Engine Services division, which the company already implemented in early 2020. Previous attempts with WiFi technology did not lead to the desired result since the poor image quality did not allow precise diagnoses. The greater bandwidth and low latency of 5G made it possible to provide customers with high-resolution photos and videos. This enabled inspection from the desk, which proved to be a valuable alternative to the usual on-site inspection during the corona pandemic.
Virtual And Augmented Reality
Another use case at Lufthansa is an augmented reality (AR) project to design VIP interiors. Users can experience different furnishings in virtual space. Individualization is also beginning to gain ground in the automotive industry, for example, electric cars, which can be fitted with different body shapes and interior fittings. This customization is supported by virtual reality (VR), which allows end customers to experience and change the design.
The adapted body parts are then produced using additive manufacturing or 3D printing. The VR-based configuration requires an extremely high-bandwidth, low-latency connection between the cloud or corporate data center and customers. Such high-performance connectivity was previously only available to end-users via fiber optic connections. 5G also wants to make related services accessible via mobile networks.
Intelligent Automated Logistics
75 percent of larger companies will use smart robots in intralogistics by 2026. These machines must be controlled and able to communicate with each other. 5G plays a crucial role in this. However, the new connection technology will have an even greater impact outside the company premises in supply chains. 5G can improve supply chain transparency and ensure end-to-end delivery tracking. Another revolutionary development for the logistics of the future is autonomous vehicles. Here too, connectivity via 5G connections plays a decisive role.
As promising as the possibilities of 5G in the industry are, you have to keep one thing in mind: The campus networks for special use cases usually cannot exist in isolation but have to exchange data with data centers, other locations, clouds and the public Internet. To do this, companies need efficient and secure connectivity options. Interconnection, i.e. the direct interconnection of different networks at an Internet node, is ideal for connecting 5G campus networks to your own data center, other networks or the cloud. This allows bypassing the public Internet to increase performance and security when connecting two networks directly. A so-called closed user group is ideal for the multilateral networking of several participants.