Automation for industry: The anniversary of 5G-ACIA

This month, the 5G-ACIA alliance celebrates its first anniversary. Co-founded by Ericsson, the alliance features leading players from across various manufacturing and telecom industries. The goal? Ease the transition of 5G in to industry. In this blog, we take a look at the impact of 5G-ACIA to-date and plot the next steps for the alliance.

Robotics
Afif Osseiran

Director of Industry Engagements & Research

The global 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA) is a unique alliance in the ICT world. Representing the ICT interests of automation industries, the alliance focuses on ensuring that 5G technologies meet and address industrial requirements – across automation, engineering and process industries – and, ultimately, create sustainable business models for these industries.

To address this, the alliance has succeeded in ensuring a focused scope. This, in itself, is a crucial differentiator from the rest of the gigantic standardization and alliances landscape.

As outlined in a recent 5G-ACIA white paper, the major 5G-ACIA goals are to:

  1. To be an essential platform between operational technology (OT) and (informational and communications technology) ICT, where those two groups share insights about the technology, build best practices, and raise awareness globally about the needs of OT and how 5G will address it
  2. Make sure automation industries and, in particular, manufacturing requirements are fed collectively in the 3GPP standardizing body where 5G-ACIA continuously identifies the main requirements by ensuring pre-alignment prior to 3GPP related activities
  3. Establish the framework for test and verification where 5G-ACIA provides guidance for the evaluation of industrial use cases, ensure an accepted test environment by OT and ICT, and assure the certification of components
  4. Build the 5G eco system for automation industries

Challenges and opportunities for industry automation

So far, excellent progress has been made on the first two goals, as is evidenced in 5G-ACIA white papers on 5G for Automation in Industry, 5G Non-Public Networks for Industrial Scenarios and 5G Testing and Validation for Industrial Communication.

The white papers, which offer a high-level overview of relevant 3GPP-supported OT use cases (e.g. factory and process automation), are designed to guide OT companies (i.e. those in industries which will deploy 5G) as to what is supported by the 3GPP-defined architecture, and which options are available for industrial local deployment scenarios.

The first important aspect examined by the papers is about how the 3GPP-defined 5G architecture will impact the automation industry. They describe the most relevant use cases, the corresponding 5G functions and service requirements. Among those primary functions provided by 5G for factory and process automation are quality of service (including a wide range of end-to-end latency, data rate and time synchronicity), dependability (in terms of communication service availability and reliability), deployment, security and positioning. It is noteworthy that the dependability attributes can vary widely. For example, availability can vary from 99.9 percent to 99.999999 percent, and reliability can vary from 1 day to 10 years.

The second important aspect addressed in the papers is the industrial IOT deployment scenarios for 3GPP-defined 5G non-public network (NPN). This, intended to provide 5G services to a clearly defined user organization or group of organizations, identifies the following four NPN scenarios:

  1. Self-contained standalone NPNs that have no connection to the public network, that kind of sled-contained NPP is already available on the market mainly for 4G e.g. Ericsson Industry Connect
  2. NPNs that are hosted entirely by public network operators
  3. NPN that share with the public network part of the radio access network while other network functions remain segregated
  4. NPN that share with the public network radio access network and control plane
5G-ACIA_scenarios_1

 

5G ACIA scenarios 2

The third major aspect, identified in the white papers, is the challenge with regard to testing and validation of 5G industrial applications, and the role that 5G-ACIA can play in ensuring the deployment of 5G industrial automation technologies relies on optimal and sustainable certification process.

The role of 5G-ACIA on the international stage

A year after its launch, the number of 5G-ACIA members has almost doubled and increased from 26 to 47 members.
In the quest to increase the international reach of the alliance, we held the first overseas workshop in Seoul with the major Korean ICT and OT players.

Korea (as with regional-neighbors China and Japan) are major industrial countries. In the Korean case, 30 percent of the GDP is generated by manufacturing and the country is, in many ways, a laboratory for innovative technologies in this space. Furthermore, in the new era of wireless communication, Korea offers huge potential for ICT players, and 16 percent of the sector's revenue is expected to be from 5G-enabled manufacturing.

Following a successful Hannover Messe, where 5G-ACIA was a privileged partner at the 5G-Arena, I look forward for the rest of 2019 to ensure the globalization of the alliance and also for closer collaboration for all members such as big OT players like ABB, Bosch, Mitsubishi, Siemens and Yokogawa, as well as many more middle and small size OT companies. Also, obviously the ICT stakeholders (mobile operators, chipset/devices vendors, mobile infrastructure providers) to continue building the 5G for industries eco system.

Read more about Ericsson's activities regarding intelligent industrial automation at Hannover Messe 2019 in our recent blog.

5G acia event


About Ericsson and 5G-ACIA

As co-founder, Ericsson has been in the driving seat of building the 5G-ACIA alliance. My role as Vice-Chairman of the board, in addition to other Ericsson colleagues' involvement (such as Kurt Essigmann as Chair of the Working Group on Architecture and Technology) means that Ericsson is strongly represented on the alliance.

Naturally, I am honored to have been elected a board member and thereafter the Vice-Chairman by my peers on the 5G-ACIA general assembly. I value the trust of the 5G-ACIA members in me and also in Ericsson, the company I represent.

At both a strategic and operational level, Ericsson actively contributes to the 5G-ACIA working groups. This includes representatives from right across Ericsson, such as corporate units (Ericsson Research), business units (Networks and Advanced business), and also market units (Western Europe).

Want to read more? Find out how else Ericsson is active in the digital transformation of manufacturing industries.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Afif Osseiran
Dr. Afif Osseiran is director of Industry Engagements & Research at Ericsson’s headquarter in Stockholm.
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