Bringing the value of 5G to manufacturing reality
5G networks promise much, not least in manufacturing where 5G splicing is seen as a scalable and cost-effective way to boost productivity. Here, business technology journalist Antony Savvas looks at a potentially key development in the market.
5G technology could revolutionise manufacturing, not only with much needed additional security for critical applications, but in delivering dedicated resources with guaranteed quality of service to and from factory sensors.
The 5G-ENCODE project – one of the UK government’s main investments in 5G for manufacturing development is now partnering with Accedian, a specialist in performance analytics and end user experience management, to help bring the value of 5G in the sector to reality.
The pair will put various technologies through their paces at the 5G-ENCODE test-bed at the UK National Composites Centre.
Accedian says it measures everything critical to the success of delivering each and every element of the service chain. Critically, partnering with Accedian will enable the 5G-ENCODE team to test the accuracy of partner Zeetta Networks’ patented network slicing and splicing in real-time.
Accedian’s Skylight system will provide granular visibility, anomaly detection and analytics on the performance of 5G-ENCODE’s private 5G network.
The aim is to help manufacturers use 5G not only to improve productivity, but also to help meet their sustainability goals through the energy-efficient deployment designs that 5G is based on.
By using combined systems such as Zeetta and Accedian, operators can set up automatic network orchestration, whereby left-over network capacity is redirected, making the factory more efficient and productive.
Quality of service
While 5G potentially holds the key to unlocking digital transformation for manufacturers around the world, the development of reliable monitoring and analytics capabilities to deliver true quality of service are essential.
According to global consulting firm Capgemini, two-out-of-three industrial companies believe that guaranteed quality of service is critical for their digital transformation.
5G-ENCODE says additional partners and their systems such as Telefonica, Siemens, Mativision, Plataine, Solvay and Toshiba, among others will also be explored as the project continues.
The idea is that various technologies can be tested to provide a baseline for manufacturing 5G network capabilities that can be compared. The result will hopefully be the development of valuable business use cases that can be picked up by companies of all sizes for commercial use.
According to Capgemini, only 30% of industrial organisations globally have so far moved to the pilot stage or beyond when it comes to migrating to 5G systems, going by its international study of 1,000 senior executives at industrial firms.
This means there is a huge window of opportunity for telcos that can get it right for customers in the manufacturing sector. So, the eyes of telecoms executives should certainly be on the likes of the 5G-ENCODE project to find out how to clear the obstacles and hopefully be on the way to much needed new revenue streams.
While telcos home in on the opportunities that 5G can afford them, they also have to make sure that nothing is taken away from them too.
Mobile operators are facing revenue losses of US$41 billion (€34.3 billion) by 2024 due to security breaches and fraud, according to roaming and connectivity market research specialist Kaleido Intelligence.
The continuing complexity of networks and the marriage of legacy deployments with those supporting the likes of IoT and 5G at the edge are causing many of the problems, says Kaleido.
Multiple insecure legacy signalling protocols, in addition to a rapidly increasing connection base and architectural convergence between mobile and IT networks, is what operators are facing.
It seems that while 5G is inherently more secure as a stand-alone solution, the interconnectivity with other protocols and transactional systems that most combined networks have to contend with is the main problem.
With a lack of holistic security oversight seemingly hard to achieve, major trouble lies ahead, Kaleido suggests.
Though operators already have limited budgets to deploy and secure their 5G networks after usually paying high amounts to secure the spectrum space they travel through Kaleido warns that the effective overall security at their disposal to protect their networks is pretty limited anyway, for the near-term period at least.
As always though in telecoms, someone’s problem is an opportunity for someone else. So, expect a clutch of suppliers to turn up armed with telco-specific security systems packed with artificial intelligence and automation to hopefully save the day, at a price of course.
There has been much written about the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), and over the last few years telco JT (formed in 1888 and once known as Jersey Telecom in the Channel Islands) has just got on with making hay around the opportunities offered by IoT.
JT’s IoT division is said to have doubled in size every year for the last three years. It now provides device connectivity services to customers around the world, with almost 10 million JT SIMs in active use today that can take advantage of more than 500 roaming agreements.
This growth has been tracked by investors and this week private equity firm Perwyn took a majority stake in the JT unit at an undisclosed price.
The Jersey government-controlled JT Group will retain a minority stake in the unit, with it and its citizens continuing to benefit from the future growth of the global business that will continue to be headquartered in Jersey.
As JT has already done the heavy lifting to establish the true international reach of its IoT network, no doubt the cash raised from the sale will be significant.
The Jersey government says the money will be used for further development in IoT and other technologies that can be incubated on Jersey, and which can benefit the JT Group and the islanders, so that’s a happy ending all-round.
The author is Antony Savvas, a global freelance business technology journalist.