In this white paper network technologies are compared and matched with relevant use cases in the field of Industry 4.0. The comparison shows that all technologies are capable of realizing high data rates. However, WiFi 4/5 proves unsuited for demanding environments and critical use cases. WiFi 6 seeks to remedy this, and is, to some extent, successful. In contrast, the inherent prioritization of data and licensed spectrum results in advantages for 4G and 5G. 5G expands the capabilities of 4G by adding safety-related features and incorporating technologies to make network deployment simple and flexible. Thereby, 5G not only incorporates the distinguishing feature, that leads to the success of WiFi, but expands on it. In view of not yet fully specified use cases of Industry 4.0, that capability poses a unique feature that holds great potential. However, the 5G hardware development and standardization are a work in progress.
Based on the trends in the manufacturing environment, seven use case classes: Track & Trace, AGVs, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Dashboarding & Monitoring, Data Analytics, Automated Process Control, Process Automation – Robotics are derived. In these seven classes 18 use case subclasses are defined. Each use case is explained, an application example is given and the state of the art in the manufacturing environment is highlighted. It is considered how the technical framework conditions and the value-added as well as the usability of the use cases influence the connectivity requirements. These connectivity requirements are then evaluated based on the defined assessment criteria. In addition, it is explained why and how the individual ratings are derived and by which use case parameters they are influenced.
In the next step, the network requirements are matched with the rating of the considered telecommunication technologies . This allows a determination of the interoperability of the communication technology with the requirements of the use cases. Furthermore, an indicator is given, if the use case is fully enabled by a communication technology, only partly functional or inoperable. The result shows that three use cases can be fully implemented by using WiFi 4/5. Six use cases are not operable with a WiFi 4/5 connection. The other ones are limited. Implementing WiFi 6 does not change the tendency. WiFi is especially limited in mobility (cell handover) and security. Compared to WiFi, security and mobility increases by using a cellular 4G network. More use cases are partly and fully functional using a 4G connectivity. Half of the defined use cases can be performed by 4G. However, it must be noted that for some use cases a 4G application does not correspond to the state of the art, as the market offers various alternative wireless communication solutions. 4G has its limitations in real-time operations with very high demands on ultra-low latency, connection density and reliability. 5G enables the vision of a fully connected and autonomous factory because it is more secure, reliable and faster compared to the other technologies.
The matching of use cases and telecommunication technologies occurs while viewing all use cases separately. In a smart factory many of the defined use cases are realized in a parallel manner. All of them need a certain bandwidth. This leads to WiFi 4/5, WiFi 6 and 4G reaching their limitations concerning the provided connectivity. In production not only manufacturing process bottlenecks but also data transfer bottlenecks will occur. In the future vision of a smart factory 5G could solve these bottlenecks. Therefore, the business case for implementing or upgrading to a different network technology, depends strongly on the digitalization strategy of the production site and the enterprise. Further the holistic digitalization strategy has to be considered for the use case and technology selection. Investing in a more expensive communication like 5G can lead to higher benefits. However, the trade-off between benefit and investment is only created by the integration of multiple use cases, making the implementation scalable.
Choosing the right communication technology needs to be done after carefully gathering, analyzing and interpreting relevant data, understanding the production processes and deriving digitalization. It is highly dependent on the present machines and assets in the production site. Therefore, this white paper can only give an overview of the main aspects of the connectivity requirements for each use case class. To further analyze the requirements and identify the best fitting communication for the individual manufacturer, information about the number of connected assets, data streams, real-time dependency, data processing and the IT infrastructure is needed. Overall, 5G enables a new level of digitalization in an industrial setting with a real-time connection of all assets, stakeholders and machines unlocking new value-adding mechanisms.