We’ve partnered to bring 5G to the factory floor
5G is here, and its application in hundreds of different contexts is being explored in Industry 4.0 initiatives around the world. A key part of the exploration lies in industrial partnership – an opportunity for industry leaders to both benefit from tailored functionality, and become a part of 5G's future.
As a pioneering technology leader in power grids, electrification products, industrial automation and robotics and motion – ABB is the perfect partner for just such a rich and diverse collaboration. Serving customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure globally, ABB's twofold mission is to bring electricity from any power plant to any plug, and to fully automate the industrial process from natural resources to finished products.
The robotics company's interest and involvement in so many 5G-relevant fields provides a fertile testing ground to explore the possibilities of what can be done with the technology in a real-world setting. What is particularly exciting is the opportunity to explore how 5G can seamlessly integrate with ABB's Time Sensitive Networks, which require perfect time synchronization.
Configuring Time Sensitive Networks for 5G
Reliable and secure transport of data in a timely manner is one of the key requirements of industrial communication technology. Ericsson's collaboration with ABB explores the interworking of 5G and the industry protocol "Time Sensitive Networks" (TSN), which would enable holistic communications for industrial automation.
TSNs were initially designed to deliver services over IEEE standard 802.3 Ethernet wired networks. These provided low and bounded latency, low packet delay variation, and low packet loss. 5G has the potential to integrate with TSNs to offer the same benefits, but without the cost and logistical restrictions of a wired solution.
Ericsson and ABB are working together to put this potential into practice, identifying how 5G can integrate with ABB's TSNs with perfect time synchronization – something which was impossible with 4G capabilities. Industrial time synchronization via 5G networks can enable network devices to operate together in perfect unison across multiple factory sites, a key requirement for flexible automated production.
Inside the factory of the future
One of the primary areas for collaborative research is the role of 5G in the future of flexible automated production. As the demands on manufacturing shift, factories are required to be increasingly accommodating of different processes and production models.
Powered by 5G, flexible, wireless automation delivers this ability, enabling factory owners to respond to evolving demands on their production environment without the complexity traditionally associated with wireless automation, while connecting more devices than ever before thanks to the low latency and high data volume capabilities of the technology.