Artificial Intelligence, Big Data…. we are seeing more and more connected workers and industry assets. More data is being generated every day, but it is of little use if it cannot be applied to process optimisation; to get value from this information, industry needs the best tools to transmit and process it in real time.
The current manufacturing environment is tending towards a convergence between OT, the operating technology that includes all the systems we have within an industry (machinery, robots, SCADA, PLC…), and the company’s IT (PR, CRM, etc.), in an increasingly deeper integration that allows us to know how the industry is working in real time and, in this way, to be able to predict certain actions that may happen in the future, as well as to manage more efficiently, improving production and reducing costs.
The convergence between IT and OT requires a robust and reliable communications infrastructure and, in this sense, private 5G networks can amplify the effects of integration, improving the performance offered by all the data generated in a factory.
This ability of 5G networks to improve the production environment is defined on three main pillars: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), which enables a data transmission rate three times higher than LTE transmission; Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC), which refers to improvements at the spectral level that allow more devices connected at the same time; and Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Comms (uRLLC), which refers to the low latency and high reliability that enable real time.
Another advantage is that the technology is set as a standard in whose definition many industry players are involved, and in this process, led by 3GPP, a series of applications and functionalities are being included that will be of great benefit to the industry and that current networks (wiland, Wi-fi) are not capable of offering.
AN INCREASINGLY NEAR FUTURE
Some consultancies have anticipated that by 2024, 60% of companies in the industrial sector will have to move towards this integration of OT and IT in order to take control of their data, have a complete view of their operations and thus maintain their competitiveness. Factories, mining operations, refineries, public safety… all sectors need to connect the information they generate and this is the great attraction of broadband technologies: they are the enablers of a myriad of applications for industry.
Aware of this reality, regulators in different countries are starting to free up spectrum for industry. Countries such as Germany, Brazil are freeing up different frequencies and, in general, this concern on the part of public administrations to allocate spectrum to the sector is noticeable.
Solutions supported by operator networks are not the best alternative because they leave many relevant issues up in the air, such as what happens in terms of cybersecurity, how to guarantee quality of service in times of congestion, or data management in cases based on cloud technology. Likewise, doubts about the regulatory model mean that operator models, including hybrid ones, have many uncertainties.
In contrast, private networks do allow full control over all resources, and offer better performance than Wi-Fi networks which, when deployed in unlicensed bands, find a very saturated spectrum, creating interference problems. In addition, it is not a technology that has mobility and handover, so it does not meet the requirements of new applications as 5G does, which allows end-to-end integration: radio, transport and core resources, prioritising quality of service.
Teltronic’s mission is to deploy this network that connects the IT and OT world, implementing both core and radio access, and offering end-to-end customisation for industries, a solution that provides a real response to their needs and improves their efficiency levels.