Ericsson and ABB hosted a webinar on Industry 4.0 and its implications for a connected society. The participants were Dr. Aleks Krotoski, Host of Ericsson UnBoxed Office Social Series, Erik Josefsson, Head of Advanced Industries, Ericsson, and Juha Mirsch, Global Cellular Communication (IIoT) Lead, ABB Motion.
Opening the conversation, Dr. Krotoski said that with automation and intelligent networks, what can the future of hyper-flexible factories look like? What happens when you cut the cables and set your production facilities free? Let’s us find out about Industrial IoT.
Erik Josefsson, Ericsson said that there has been no factory that has not been impacted. In the heart of Covid-19, we also opened up a new factory in the USA, in March 2020. We have to also move from physical to digital. That’s a clear shift that we are seeing. Juha Mirsch, ABB, said that the distancing to machines is our first priority. When data is collected from the assets, we can deploy remote monitoring that increases the distance from the machines.
Dr. Krotoski said that all of this allows the machines to move around a lot. Industry 4.0 allows the ability to roll around equipment, along with cellular. Josefsson noted that the merge between IT and OT is perfect timing. ABB comes from OT and Ericsson comes from ICT. Cellular brings mobility, eg., collaborative robots. We predict that there will be 2mn AMRs by 2030.
Connecting screwdrivers by adding a sensor will give you the intelligence seamlessly. When IT and OT come together with 5G, there will be exciting times. IT is the software layer. OT could be a machine or a tool. So, you can differentiate between the physical and digital.
Mirsch added that the industry is connected today. We had lots of cables around the shop floor. We came up with PLC logic. It is a natural step, to make everything wireless and changeable.
What will the future factory, based on cellular, look like? According to Josefsson, you can have local antennae around. You can deploy it, say, around 5,000 sq.m. You can even connect screwdrivers. We connect sensors, to the big robots, and to the motors.
Protecting Industry 4.0
Next, there was a question as to what can be done to protect Industry 4.0 with security? To this, Josefsson said that if you use any unlicensed spectrum, anyone can get break in. If you use 4G or 5G, they come with built-in security. There is the e-SIM also coming in. Industry 4.0 unlocks a lot for the manufacturers. You can connect machines, have drones, on top of the industrial machines. You can unlock the value worth $4 million in a year.
According to Mirsch, there are environmental considerations that also come into play. Energy consumption will happen. We will use electricity more judiciously. 10% of electricity can be used for movement. How do we optimize electricity? There is scaling. We can collect the data.
What do partners bring?
What do Ericsson and ABB bring to the Industry 4.0 table? Josefsson said that last year, Ericsson announced at the Hannover Messe that it is going to collaborate with ABB on research, and connecting our factories. We are looking at new opportunities. We are looking at communications. We also connected the collaborative robots in Davos, just before the pandemic.
As per Mirsch, there is lot to do for making IIoT more collaborative. We need to also differentiate between the public and private networks. We want to have seamless connectivity. There can be devices that can be part of their own environment.
Effects of 5G and AI
Next, Dr. Krotoski inquired about the key industrial requirements for cellular, and how can SMEs be helped. Josefsson said that we can see the beginning of a new era of industrial digitalization. For example, Mercedes, BMW, Vodafone, etc., have deployed the IIoT. Mirsch added that the key requirement for 5G to transform industries will be to determine how to collect data, and how to use it for IT and OT. We need to connect the whole factory.
Dr. Krotoski noted that once you initiate 5G, it can explode innovation. How will 5G and AI affect Industry 4.0? As per Josefsson, there will be industrial AI as well. There will be PLC in the cloud. When Ericsson deployed 4G for consumers, they made the best possible communications. We had industrial AI and ML, as well.
According to Mirsch, AI is the ICT element. The industry does calculations about TCO. There is cost of purchasing, keeping the machines running, etc. Smart sensor is a great way to predict accurately. We need to have data to do all that. We collaborate with customers to optimize and reduce costs.
If there are any risks working without cables, Josefsson added that it is the physical element with cables. There is an underlying uncertainty. It becomes extremely important for a factory to connect wirelessly. We can expand the footprints of 5G and cellular.
Also, there was a question as to what degree will the people give up to trust wireless? According to Mirsch, there is the voice, GPRS and IP over the mobile. When you press the button, the motor will stop. Remote monitoring, connectivity, etc., will help people avoid connecting with machines.
There are benefits for the manufacturing industry, as well. Josefsson added that the first thing is to get started and experiment. That will expand on to the shop floor. There is the industrial AI and analytics. You can place a sensor and get communication, without troubling your network. Look at what’s in front of you and get started!
According to Mirsch, there is a value in the early adoption. In the future, this standardization will help in integrating the existing 5G standards. Downtime is a cost aspect. The early adoption will help you in understanding how to optimize.