Private 5G as the Enabler of Industry 4.0 | HCLTech

Private 5G as the Enabler of Industry 4.0

Private 5G as the Enabler of Industry 4.0
April 05, 2022

Reliable wireless connectivity is a critical enabler for enterprises to support a remote workforce, branch operations, supply chain, and manufacturing facilities. From an operational standpoint, deploying wireless connectivity enhances collaboration, information access, scalability, flexibility, and even cost-effectiveness. In this context, private 5G networks can be a game changer.

Understanding  private 5G

The USP of a private 5G network is that it allows large enterprises to create a customized 5G experience to indoor or outdoor facilities irrespective of whether the premises are within a public 5G coverage area. Private 5G networks can deliver mission-critical reliability, performance, robust security, and stable coverage for all use cases – making it a key enabler of enterprise success.

The widespread access to public 5G networks has already taken place across many geographies such as the US, China, and South Korea. However, purpose-built private 5G networks catering to specific business cases, such as manufacturing centres are still on a rapid growth trajectory. In fact, recent reports indicate that over 75% of manufacturers in Germany, Japan, UK, and US seek to adopt private 5G by 2024.

private

Private 5G infrastructure supporting industry 4.0 (Source: Metaswitch)

For IIoT use cases, there are several distinct advantages of private 5G networks. Private networks (such as private LTE/5G) enable bespoke and substantial coverage where it is needed, for example, in a factory, a remote mine, an offshore oil platform, or seaport. Furthermore, with a reliability rate of 99.9999% also known as ‘six nines’ implies an expected downtime of not more than five minutes per year which is equivalent to the performance of fixed Ethernet networks.

Private 5G transformations in action

Today, industrial enterprises are eager to take advantage of advanced technologies including edge computing, IoT, AR/VR, AI, computer vision, drones, and others to digitally transform their operations through automation and connectivity.  In fact, connectivity is what makes private 5G a force to be reckoned. To illustrate the tremendous potential of private 5G, consider the following use cases:  

    • Production line efficiency: Although Wi-Fi networks have been used in some production facilities, these lack the scalability for larger facilities and higher bandwidth density use cases. Here, private 5G networks alleviate bandwidth and coverage concerns, and support the rapid reconfiguration of production lines to deliver new products
    • Autonomous guided vehicles (AGV): Private 5G networks provide ultra-high bandwidth and reliable mobile handovers across production line areas, dispatch areas, and warehousing. The extremely high and reliable bandwidth ensures AGVs are used across manufacturing or warehousing facility or even mines and shipyards.
    • Machine to machine (M2M) communications: In a high reliability and ultra-low latency private 5G network, network slicing enables inter-device secure virtual networking. This creates the ideal conditions for applications such as smart warehousing and logistics, autonomous production line quality optimization, and even robotics, and cobots or collaborative robots
    • End-to-end logistics: With a private 5G network, enterprises can deploy several low-cost tracking devices to report the location, status, and environment of finished goods, parts, assemblies, and supplies. Further, warehouse managers can seamlessly manage national and international logistics particularly for pallets, wagons, and shipping containers by collaborating with a private network environment and public 5G networks
    • Predictive maintenance: Private 5G networks enable manufacturing environments to acquire the rapid flow of data from a vast array of sensors at high data rates. This enables systems to provide predictive maintenance in a reliable and flexible manner for various industries, such as logistics, manufacturing, mining, and more
    • Remote heavy equipment control: Heavy industrial equipment such as oil and gas pumps, cranes, or earthmovers are mostly outdoors, and rely on a reliable wireless network like private 5G to function well.

Wireless technology comparisons: Private 5G vs. Wi-Fi 6 vs. Private LTE

Criteria

\Technology

Wi-Fi 6

Private LTE

Private 5G

Origin

Certified in Q3 2019

Early use since 2009

Standardized in 2021

Speed

Up to 9.6 Gbps

Up to 1 Gbps

Up to 10Gbps

Connectivity

~400,000 per km2

~100,000 per km2

1 million per km2

Mobility

Fixed location

Public-private roaming

Public-private roaming

Handover

NA

High speed (350 km/h)

Very high speed (500 km/h)

Latency/Reliability

>100 milliseconds

40-50 milliseconds

Sub-millisecond

Comparison of key features between Wi-Fi 6, Private LTE, and Private 5G.

Achieving business value beyond traditional solutions

Implementing private 5G network can in many ways revolutionise how businesses innovate and implement their operational ecosystems. This potential has made the enterprise enthusiasm for private 5G higher than ever before. Here are just some of the benefits private 5G brings to business outcomes:

  • Seamless connectivity
    • Superior connectivity experience for critical infrastructure with enhanced service levels on bandwidth, latency, and packet-error rate
    • Cellular coverage where public networks aren’t available
    • Bandwidth delivered at scale to suit the needs of the enterprise without being dependent on the wider rollout plans of the telcos
  • Acceleration of digital transformation initiatives
    • Reliable mobile communication continuity
    • Improved application response times and automated service delivery
    • Enterprises can choose how the mobile network is deployed for their specific situation
  • Improved employee experience and enhanced productivity
    • Reliable network support for frontline and remote workers
    • Flexibility of device movement and deployment efficiency

Preparing for a private 5G enterprise

Private 5G networks are poised to be the enablers of the next industrial revolution. In this blog post, we outline its chief differentiators, business benefits, and the opportunity it presents to technology MSPs as chief facilitators

Private 5G has the potential to emerge as the rightful, natural successor to enterprise wireless. As more vendors deploy devices with chipsets that natively support private 5G, we will be seeing more large-scale deployments. As per IDC forecasts, the combined sale value of private LTE/ 5G infrastructure will grow at a CAGR of 43.4% till 2024 to be worth $5.7 billion.

However, with deployments projected to rise, the complexities of integrations with existing enterprise networks and management of the private 5G networks will be a recurrent, evolving concern area for leaders. Here, system integrators and managed services have a golden opportunity to position themselves as true enablers of private 5G rollouts. The question they must ask themselves is simple – how will they capitalize on this opportunity?

To discuss how HCLTech can help your organization answer this question and many others related to Private 5G opportunities, write to us at

Get HCL Technologies Insights and Updates delivered to your inbox