The new radio network standard 5G is on everyone’s lips worldwide – especially in the private mobile phone sector. But especially for wireless, flexible and fast communication, numerous new possibilities are opening up. Fraunhofer in Lemgo, together with the Institute for Industrial Information Technology (inIT) of the TH OWL (Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe), is therefore now operating one of the first private 5G networks ever: the aim is to develop new industrial applications and business models for automation and production. After all, this is primarily about reliability, safety and speed.
In the SmartFactoryOWL, a joint initiative of Fraunhofer IOSB-INA and TH OWL, one of the first private 5G networks is operated. Today, this technology is ascribed those characteristics that the widely spread WLAN and the previous mobile network systems cannot offer: a guaranteed transmission quality with firmly defined bandwidths and transmission times. Prof. Jürgen Jasperneite, head of Fraunhofer IOSB-INA, is particularly pleased about the new equipment in the Lemgo research and demonstration factory:
“Two weeks ago, we received the frequency allocation and the operating license from the Federal Network Agency for a private network. Now we have the appropriate hardware for the 5G base station and the core network in house, so that we can now work and test a wide range of applications together with partners in research and industrial projects.”
5G: Flexible resource assurance for industrial applications
The special feature of 5G radio technology is that it is suitable for applications that require transmission or reaction times of less than a thousandth of a second. In contrast to WLAN, the main advantage is that the so-called quality of service (speed and transmission time) can be guaranteed by means of “network slicing”. This gives the operator of a “private” 5G network complete control over the available resources and a high degree of flexibility. Together with a computing cluster (Edge Computing) already existing in the SmartFactoryOWL, there is a test field for many real-time applications.
One application area for 5G in industry is the control of mobile robots or the remote control of automated machines and systems. Another example are driverless transport systems in intralogistics, which can be controlled in a bundled manner from a computing cluster in the factory. “All data-intensive applications with high bandwidth requirements, for example virtual reality or big data applications – in product ramp-up phases or service cases, will find a suitable technology in 5G,” summarizes Jasperneite.