Industry 4.0 may be a hot topic for manufacturers as they play their part within the Fourth technological revolution . With Industry 4.0, manufacturing equipment is augmented with wireless connectivity, sensor technology and intelligence to enable cyber physical capabilities and digitize manufacturing processes. Notable Industry 4.0 use cases include agile factory automation, preventative maintenance, workforce management and augmentation, machine optimization and remote monitoring and control.
Wireless connectivity is required to realize the agility demanded by Industry 4.0, particularly in large scale manufacturing facilities. Currently wireless is merely used sparingly, typically with unlicensed spectrum technologies. Several competing wireless technologies are emerging as candidates for Industry 4.0, including WiFi-6 for unlicensed spectrum, and 4G-LTE and 5G in licensed spectrum bands. Recent 5G technology releases (Releases 15, 16 and 17) have incorporated key capabilities for Industry 4.0, like ultra-reliable low latency connectivity (uRLCC), Ethernet-TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) integration, and a spread of features for enormous machine type communications (mMTC).
The first 5G networks went commercial in April 2019 and targeted enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services for consumers. For communication network operators (CNO), eMBB may be a natural extension of their successful 4G-LTE services. However, 5G promises far more as CNOs look to vertical industry applications, albeit with complex ecosystem demands and systems integration challenges. For 5G to realize an edge with Industry 4.0, it must have the support of a broad range of ecosystem stakeholders, including CNOs, communication and industrial technology providers, systems integrators, and Tier 1 manufacturers.
At Tolaga Research we recently conducted a study using tongue processing (NLP) of online content to research the 5G sentiment of key Industry 4.0 ecosystem stakeholders. Over 600 companies were identified from online searches of stories and press releases concerning smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Targeted searches for every company were conducted to spot online content published between 2016 and 2019 that related specifically to 5G and manufacturing. In each case where relevant content was identified, it had been tagged with a sentiment ranking. The sentiment ranking of the content was then related to an ecosystem category, in order that aggregate category ranks might be calculated, see Exhibit 1. The key ecosystem categories shown in Exhibit 1 include:
Communication and connectivity technology providers like Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE, who have strong incentives to drive demand for 5G technology and are pioneering use cases for industry 4.0. The rank estimates in Exhibit 1 have communication and connectivity providers being the primary to become publicly engaged with 5G for manufacturing within the 2017 time-frame.
Communication Network Operators (CNO) like Deusche Telekom, NTT, Singtel, Telefonica and Verizon, who are trialing Industry 4.0 initiatives and are wanting to expand 5G into vertical markets. The rank for CNOs shown in Exhibit 1 features a similar profile to communication and connectivity providers, but with a lag of roughly 12 months.
IT hardware, software and services companies, like Amazon AWS, Dell, IBM, HPE, Mahindra and Microsoft Azure. These companies are already providing solutions to several industries, including manufacturing. the businesses aren’t hooked in to the success of 5G but are wanting to maximize the broader Industry 4.0 opportunities which may depend upon 5G connectivity within the future.
Semiconductors and embedded system providers like Analog Devices, Arduino, Intel, NVidia, NXP and Qualcomm, who have varying degrees of interest in 5G. Companies like Qualcomm, who are heavily invested in 5G are pioneering use cases, including those concerning manufacturing. Other players recognize that they need to be prepared beforehand to reply to 5G market demands should they arise.
Industrial technology, robotics and automation solution providers, like ABB, Applied Robotics, Hitachi, Honeywell, Rockwell, and Siemens, who provide a variety of general purpose and specialized solutions to manufacturers. Some companies have trialed 5G, but full engagement from companies during this category will only come once there’s clear evidence of 5G demand from manufacturers.
Manufacturers including those for the automotive, heavy industries, life sciences and aerospace and defense, will ultimately determine the fate of 5G with Industry 4.0. Some manufacturers are aggressive in their pursuit of 5G. for instance , Volkswagen in Germany has acquired industrial radio-frequency spectrum resources and plans to deploy private 5G. While other manufacturers have trialed 5G and investigated other technologies like WiFi-6, many manufacturers have yet to research their wireless strategies.
Wireless and industry 4.0 adoption are inextricably linked. Industry 4.0 is challenging to implement and has greater prospects with manufacturers that are being disrupted. for instance , the automotive industry is being disrupted by companies like Tesla and each industry are going to be disrupted in varying degrees within the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although 5G momentum is increasing, 5G remains nascent and must mature with clear justification for all ecosystem stakeholders. radio-frequency spectrum must even be availed. While some companies (e.g. Volkswagen) are capitalizing on dedicated industrial spectrum allocations for personal 5G, radio-frequency spectrum will mostly come through partnerships between manufacturers and native CNOs. The 5G standards must still evolve to include industrial technologies and to account for the salient characteristics for Industry 4.0 operating environments. Manufacturers and industrial technology suppliers must be engaged as these standards are developed and 5G solutions must be created specifically for industrial environments. additionally , 5G has competition from emerging unlicensed spectrum technologies like WiFi-6. Industry 4.0 needs wireless, but there’s tons to be finished 5G to prove that it’s the proper solution.
source : iiconsortium