The rationale for the development of the 5G was not only to expand the broadband capabilities of mobile networks, but also to provide advanced wireless connectivity for a wide variety of vertical industries, such as the manufacturing, automotive and agricultural sectors. The fourth stage of the Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, is the next era in industrial production, which will be largely dependent upon advanced mobile wireless communications connectivity.
5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, has published 5G Communications for Automation in Vertical Domains, which summarizes automation concepts and communication modeling for vertical domains incorporating the key specific use cases, requirements and security mechanisms.
Communication for automation in vertical domains comes with demanding and diverse requirements with respect to latency, data rates, availability, reliability, and in some cases, high-accuracy positioning. The vertical industries that will reap the benefits of this new level of automation will range from railways, buildings, factories, healthcare, smart cities, electrical power supply and special events. These new Industry 4.0 opportunities will be possible through making sure that communications between machines is secure, dependable and seamless.
To achieve this, 5G supports three essential types of communication: enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC). Connectivity is a key component of Industry 4.0, which aims at significantly improving the flexibility, versatility, usability and efficiency of future smart factories, integrates the Internet of Things (IoT) and related services in industrial manufacturing, and delivers seamless vertical and horizontal integration down the entire value chain and across all layers of the automation pyramid. Meeting these objectives will greatly depend on the 5G technical performance such as supporting a peak data rate of 1–20 Gbps; connection density 1 thousand – 1 million devices/km2; reliability of 99.999 percent; enhanced battery life of 10 years; higher position accuracy; latency 1–10 ms; and strong privacy and security.
New 5G technology developments will provide powerful and pervasive connectivity between machines, people and objects. Moreover, wireless, and in particular 5G, is an important means of achieving the required flexibility of production, supporting new advanced mobile applications for workers, and allowing mobile robots and autonomous vehicles to operate successfully in the future.
It is becoming increasingly important that 5G technologies have the capabilities to provide ultra-reliable and low-latency communication which will enable automation in vertical domains through mission-critical machine type communications use cases. A 3GPP study item focuses on the requirements for automation in verticals with critical communications as an enabler for wireless control loops, identifying the normative 3GPP work needed to deliver 5G for automation in a variety of industries.
“5G technology will provide a wide range of vertical applications such as IoT, Virtual Reality (VR), industrial control, smart cities, smart grids and smart factories,” adds Rao Yallapragada from Intel and a co-leader of the white paper working group. “Security and seamless communication offered through 5G will be of utmost importance as we move towards automation of verticals.”
5G Communications for Automation in Vertical Domains was written by members of 5G Americas and is available for free download on the 5G Americas website. Jeff Collins II from Ericsson and Rao Yallapragada from Intel led the white paper working group with support from 5G Americas’ Board of Governors who participated in the development of the white paper.
Chris Pearson is president of 5G Americas.