Prospect of Intelligent Factory in 5G Era

  • Source: eahison
  • Date:06/20/2019

In the past two decades, the key technologies of communication have changed, and we have witnessed the transformation of mobile communication from 1G to 4G LTE. The fifth generation communication technology - 5G has entered the standard formulation stage, and major operators are actively deploying 5G equipment. Undoubtedly, 5G will bring users a new experience, which has a transmission rate ten times faster than 4G. Intelligent factory is one of the important application scenarios of 5G technology. Now let's talk about the prospect of intelligent factory in 5G era.


 1. Boost flexible manufacturing to achieve personalized production

In order to meet the diversified and individualized demand of products in different markets around the world, enterprises need to update the existing production mode, and the production mode based on flexible technology has become a trend.

The International Association of Manufacturing Factory Research defines flexible manufacturing system as an automated manufacturing system that can produce any range of product family with the least human intervention. The flexibility of the system is usually limited by the product family considered in system design. With the advent of flexible production, the demand for new technologies has arisen.

On the one hand, flexible production requires high mobility and differentiated business processing capability of industrial robots in enterprise factories. 5G takes advantage of its unique advantages to promote the large-scale popularization of flexible production. 5G network enters the factory. While reducing the cost of cable between machine and machine, it makes use of the continuous coverage of high reliability network, so that the mobile area of the robot is unrestricted in the process of moving, arrives at all locations on demand, and carries out uninterrupted work and smooth switching of work content in various scenarios.

5G networks can also make it possible for various business needs with differentiated characteristics. In large factories, different production scenarios have different requirements for the quality of service of the network. Delay is the key to the process with high accuracy. The key tasks need to ensure the reliability of the network and the high speed of real-time analysis and processing of large traffic data. With its end-to-end slicing technology, 5G network has different quality of service in the same core network and can be adjusted flexibly on demand. For example, the updating of device status information is set to the highest level of service.

On the other hand, 5G can construct a comprehensive information ecosystem centered on people and machines inside and outside the factory, and ultimately enable anyone and things to share information with each other at anytime and anywhere. While consumers demand personalized goods and services, the relationship between enterprises and consumers changes. Consumers will participate in the production process of enterprises. Consumers can participate in product design through 5G network across regions, and query product status information in real time.


 2. The factory maintenance mode is fully upgraded

The production scenarios of large enterprises often involve cross-factory, cross-regional equipment maintenance, remote problem location and other scenarios. The application of 5G technology in these areas can improve the efficiency of operation and maintenance and reduce costs. 5G brings not only the interconnection of all things, but also the information exchange of all things, which makes the maintenance work of future intelligent factory break through the factory boundary.

According to the complexity of the factory maintenance work, it can be completed by industrial robots or human-industrial robots in cooperation with the actual situation. In the future, every object in the factory will be a terminal with unique IP, so that the raw materials in the production process will have "information" attributes. Raw materials will be automatically produced and maintained according to "information". People have become terminals with their own IP. Man and industrial robots enter the whole production process and interact with raw materials, equipment and products with unique IP. While industrial robots manage factories, people can also receive real-time information for follow-up at the first time thousands of miles away and interact with each other.

5G technology enables people and industrial robots to work with more complex scenes. For example, in the case of multi-person collaborative repair, even different experts from several continents can use the VR and remote haptic sensing devices to “gather” at the fault site for the first time

industrial-robots-join-management 3. Industrial Robots Join Management

In the future, logistics, feeding and warehousing are involved in the production of intelligent factories. 5G technology can provide a full cloud network platform for intelligent factories. Precision sensing technology acts on countless sensors and reports information status in a very short time. A large number of industrial data are collected through 5G network, and huge databases are formed. Industrial robots learn independently and judge accurately with the supercomputing power of cloud computing, and give the best solution.

In some specific scenarios, by means of D2D (Device-to-Device) technology under 5G, direct communication between objects and objects further reduces the end-to-end delay of the service and realizes the shunting in the network load. At the same time, the reaction is more agile. The time for manufacturing and manufacturing has become shorter, the solution is faster and better, and the manufacturing efficiency has been greatly improved.

 4. Allocation of resources on demand

5G network provides solutions for various manufacturing scenarios through network slicing, realizes real-time, high efficiency and low energy consumption, and simplifies deployment, laying a solid foundation for the future development of intelligent factory.

Firstly, network slicing technology is used to ensure the allocation of network resources on demand to meet the requirements of different manufacturing scenarios. Different applications have different demands on delay, mobility, network coverage, connection density and connection cost. The flexible allocation of 5G network, especially the rational and rapid allocation and redistribution of network resources, requires more stringent requirements.

As the most important feature of 5G network, based on the end-to-end network slicing capability of a variety of new technology combinations, the network resources needed can be flexibly and dynamically allocated and released for different needs in the whole network; according to the blueprint and input parameters provided by service management, network slices are created to provide specific network characteristics. For example, very low delay, very high reliability, great bandwidth and so on, to meet the requirements of different application scenarios on the network. For example, in the prototype of intelligent factory, in order to meet the requirements of critical transaction processing in the factory, critical transaction slices are created to provide a low latency, high reliability network.

In the process of creating network slices, resources in infrastructure need to be scheduled. Including access resources, transmission resources and cloud resources. And each infrastructure resource also has its own management function. Through network slice management, according to the different needs of customers, to provide customers with shared or isolated infrastructure resources. Because of the independence of various resources, network slice management also carries out collaborative management among different resources. In the prototype of Intelligent Factory, the multi-level and modular management mode is demonstrated, which makes the management and collaboration of the whole network slice more universal, more flexible and easy to expand.

In addition to critical transaction slicing, the 5G Smart Factory will additionally create mobile broadband slices and large connectivity slices. Different slices share the same infrastructure under the scheduling of the network slice management system, but do not interfere with each other and maintain the independence of their respective services.

Secondly, 5G combiner can optimize network connection and adopt local traffic diversion to meet the requirement of low latency. The optimization of each slice for business needs is reflected not only in the different features of network functions, but also in flexible deployment schemes. The network function module deployment in the slice is very flexible, and can be deployed in multiple distributed data centers according to business requirements. In order to ensure real-time transaction processing, the key transaction slices in the prototype require high latency. The user data surface function module is deployed in the local data center near the end user to reduce the latency as much as possible and ensure real-time control and response to production.

In addition, distributed cloud computing technology is used to deploy industrial applications and key network functions based on NFV (Network Function Virtualization) technology in a local data center or centralized data center in a flexible manner. The high bandwidth and low latency of the 5G network greatly enhances the intelligent processing capability by migrating to the cloud, paving the way for improving the level of intelligence.

With the connection of 5G network, intelligent factory has become the application platform of various intelligent technologies. In addition to the application of the above four technologies, intelligent factories are expected to combine with many advanced technologies in the future to maximize resource utilization, production efficiency and economic benefits.

For example, with the help of 5G high-speed network, it collects energy efficiency related data of key equipment manufacturing, production process, energy supply, etc., uses energy management system to manage and analyze energy efficiency related data, and timely discovers fluctuations and abnormalities of energy efficiency, ensuring normal production. Next, adjust the production process, equipment, energy supply and personnel accordingly to improve the energy efficiency of the production process;

Use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) for raw material inventory management, including various raw materials and supplier information. When the customer's order is released, ERP automatically calculates the required raw materials, and instantly calculates the purchase time of the raw materials based on the supplier information, ensuring that the inventory cost is at least zero while meeting the delivery time.

Therefore, in the 5G era, the intelligent factory will greatly improve the working conditions, reduce the manual intervention of the production line and improve the controllability of the production process. The most important thing is to open up the various processes of the enterprise by means of information technology, realize the interconnection and interoperability from design, production to sales, and realize the integration and optimization of resources on this basis, thereby further improving the production efficiency and product quality of the enterprise.



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