High costs, the use of old technologies, broken supply chains, a lack of production visibility, incongruency on what to measure and a lack of IT/OT integration are just a few factors keeping factories from running at full capacity.
To overcome these inefficiencies, companies are looking for new technologies and new processes to improve performance. Enter the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Industry 4.0 takes advantage of IoT to deliver predictive and prescriptive maintenance programs, self-healing production lines with near zero downtime, remote control processes, autonomous robotics, and augmented reality systems. These capabilities require better connectivity throughout the factory floor.
Advances in wireless technology and particularly the use of 5G networks is changing manufacturing. The vision of a “factory of the future,” with predictive and prescriptive maintenance programs, self-healing production lines with near zero downtime, remote control processes, autonomous robotics and augmented reality systems is now within reach for many industry sectors.
One of the top concerns among industrial network managers and enterprise IT engineers and main barriers of a smart factory is being able to connect devices on the plant floor. Historically wired connectivity was preferred in manufacturing because wireless did not provide the high-speed bandwidth and penetration into the building needed for stability. Moreover, manufacturers had not seen the level of reliability necessary to risk introducing it until 5G came along.
Over the last decade, standards like Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11), Zigbee, Zwave, Wireless IO-Link, WirelessHART, ISA100.11a and Bluetooth. In addition to today’s 5G, have been the dominant wireless technologies on factory floor, but the recent introduction of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax PHY), LoRaWAN, Sigfox, NB-IoT, LTE-M, and Bluetooth LE have entered or are entering the manufacturing industry as well.
Wireless technologies enable mobility and free movement fostering greater flexibility in configuring the factory floor. The greater flexibility generates a financial advantage for manufacturers, faster time to market, improved scalability, and enabling innovation.
RF performance is critical for factories. Any possible interference directly impacts factory performance. Thus, there is a need for testing. Devices that perform under harsh coverage environments with specific tasks in IoT applications, require comprehensive testing of the final design under real-world conditions in a variety of operational modes.
How can a factory ensure the connectivity to minimize the downtime and maximize its production? Network testing comes to rescue and helps companies ensure business continuity. Proper and timely testing helps manufacturing organizations to ensure reliability, throughput, low latency, connectivity, flexibility, and efficient spectrum utilization.
Please join the James Brehm & Associates and Rohde & Schwarz for the webinar “How 5G and Wireless IoT is Enabling the Smart Factory” hosted by IoT Evolution on March 2nd, 2021 at 1pm US EST. This webinar will discuss how wireless technologies can impact a manufacturing environment, role of IoT and challenges factory operators face to meet their increasing demand and real life 5G deployments in a factory in Germany.