“Before the advent of 5G, the main purpose of each generation of mobile phone technology was to improve the operation of mobile phones. The first-generation mobile phone network is an analog system, and the bandwidth is only enough for voice calls. 2G is the first digital mobile technology that came out in the early 1990s; 3G came out in the late 1990s, allowing mobile phones to transmit e-mail messages and provide basic access to web pages.
Brendan O’Dowd, General Manager of Industrial Automation
Before the advent of 5G, the main purpose of each generation of mobile phone technology was to improve the operation of mobile phones. The first-generation mobile phone network is an analog system, and the bandwidth is only enough for voice calls. 2G is the first digital mobile technology that came out in the early 1990s; 3G came out in the late 1990s, allowing mobile phones to transmit e-mail messages and provide basic access to web pages.
It was not until the adoption of 4G technology in 2008 that smart phone functions were truly realized: based on 4G mobile broadband, smart phone applications, multimedia and streaming services were developed, and high-speed Internet access was possible at any time.
The recently installed 5G network marks the first time that a new generation of mobile technology focuses on equipment and system requirements, rather than mobile phone users. The 5G plan of the telecommunications industry envisages technological breakthroughs in three main parameters:
• Latency, reliability and certainty
• Connection density
• Bandwidth and data transfer speed
The reason for improving the performance of these parameters is to monitor and control the intensity of simultaneous communication devices in real time. For example, in the smart city scenario, we expect 5G to provide real-time location information of vacant parking spaces on the street and Display it in the navigation system of nearby vehicles. Such a smart parking system needs to connect thousands of proximity sensors or cameras in a small area and thousands of cars in a small area at the same time, and continuously transmit real-time data about the vacant parking spaces and their locations.
The latency, density, and bandwidth requirements of this application and other applications are met through three technical improvements in the 5G standard specification:
• Ultra-reliable low-latency communication for real-time control systems (URLLC)
• Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) to support new bandwidth-based use cases, including augmented reality and virtual display reality
• Enhanced/large mechanical machine type communication (eMTC) for low-power, wide-area wireless networks
These 5G technical characteristics enable it to support the factory control system’s requirements for real-time determinism and sixty-nine (99.9999%) availability. However, in real life, most mobile phone users still encounter black spots (weak or non-existent network coverage) when accessing 2G, 3G, or 4G networks, and occasionally accidental disconnections.
So, is there any prospect for using mobile phone technology to connect mission-critical and time-sensitive industrial equipment?
Replace mature 4 mA to 20 mA technology
Despite the hype around advanced 5G technology, the reality is that most of today’s process equipment is controlled through a mature wired 4 mA to 20 mA link. This is a technology introduced in the 1950s and has been tried and tested. . This shows that the industry needs to ensure certainty and avoid risks when implementing mission-critical or safety-critical control systems.
However, the wave of reforms cannot be stopped. With continuous innovations in the way factories operate, control system designers begin to evaluate technologies that can replace 4 mA to 20 mA technology. As Industry 4.0 and the global situation force factories to continuously change their operating methods, two trends urgently need new network technologies: the introduction of automatic mobile devices; and the development of more flexible manufacturing equipment to meet the growing consumer demand for personalized or configured products.
Unmanned guided vehicles (AGV), collaborative robots, and other types of autonomous mobile devices are used in factory and warehouse environments to quickly increase efficiency and productivity. As automated equipment takes over monotonous and repetitive tasks, workers can switch to higher-value, more interesting factory operations that cannot be performed by machines.
The new generation of autonomous mobile devices (such as AGV) require low-latency wireless communication network connections to provide real-time control, high bandwidth to transmit signals from multiple sensors (such as LIDAR scanners and cameras), and high noise immunity-this It is the characteristic of 5G mobile network.
After replacing wired connections with wireless connections, factory operators have also gained the flexibility to quickly reconfigure factory equipment to meet new consumer needs. The rise of e-commerce has raised consumer expectations. They hope that the goods they buy can be delivered almost instantly, and the list of products that can be selected is more extensive than ever. The ability to move production or process equipment faster and easier is also increasing in value. Fixed wired communication infrastructure is not as flexible as wireless networks, which support connecting devices from any location. The wireless network reduces the cost, trouble and technical difficulty of installing communication cables.
Therefore, in the long run, in addition to mature wired communication technology, factory operators are willing to accept the benefits of wireless control networks. However, in the near future, the industry will prioritize the most important requirements for it, including:
• High reliability and availability
• Durability to meet challenging industrial operating conditions
• Ultra low latency
These factors determine the life span of the 4 mA to 20 mA factory communication standard. Although factory operators hope to replace 4 mA to 20 mA technology, they are now leaning toward the Time Sensitive Network (TSN) standard for wired industrial Ethernet communications, rather than wireless technology.
TSN has become the preferred standard for high-bandwidth wired data communications in factories because of its reliability, durability, high data transmission rate, low latency (measured in microseconds), and easy integration with enterprise IT network systems.
The TSN specification is a standard supported by cross-industry, so it quickly established a rich ecosystem of TSN components and system suppliers, including ADI.
OpenRAN: Non-public network supports verification of comments on 5G performance
In addition to the implementation of the TSN network, we are also actively evaluating the use of wireless networks to improve the scope of factory operations. Some early adopters in the industrial field have begun to test, verify and evaluate the operating effects of the 5G network system in the factory, while using the newly launched TSN Ethernet network to replace the traditional 4 mA to 20 mA system. This verification process will find the most suitable 5G technology application.
Factory operators have now begun to test innovative features of 5G technology, such as massive MIMO functionality-using antenna arrays to provide multiple physical transmission paths between the transmitter and receiver. The array can be configured to form multiple antenna beams for transmission to multiple receivers. In this way, technologies such as channel reinforcement, beamforming, fast channel assessment, and antenna (spatial) diversity can be used, which can significantly improve reliability and reduce delay compared with using 4G mobile networks.
In fact, one of the goals of 5G standard developers is to make the wireless network reach 99.9999% reliability in data packet transmission, which is equivalent to the reliability of wired Ethernet, which is equivalent to a packet error rate of 1:1,000,000. Delays of up to 1 ms are also expected, which fully meets the requirements of many industrial control applications.
But in a real factory environment, communication equipment may be affected by multiple high-amplitude radio frequency interference sources, transient voltage events, high temperatures and other interferences. Can this performance be achieved?
When verifying the true performance of 5G equipment, factory system designers have a choice: use the 5G coverage provided by mobile network service providers. However, the 5G standard also provides for the implementation of private systems or so-called non-public networks (NPN), such as networks covering industrial parks or large factories. Different industrial users and use cases will choose different public or private networks.
Mobile network operators formulate OpenRAN (Open Radio Access Network) specifications, which also promotes the deployment of 5G networks in factories. In addition to traditional providers serving the telecommunication equipment market, more suppliers are about to enter the 5G radio frequency and core equipment market. This may expand the range of available equipment options to meet different use cases from mass market public network operators, and encourage industrial market suppliers to develop 5G products.
As a supplier of physical layer components and protocol software for TSN equipment and 5G infrastructure manufacturers, ADI can fairly evaluate various technologies used to implement industrial control systems. Although the current wired industrial Ethernet technology is still dominant, it is conceivable that the AGV and robots in the factory will send and receive time-critical and mission-critical data loads through the 5G network in the future-the coverage of the 5G network means that this dream has been Becoming a reality is no longer a theoretical possibility.