5G

5G campus network tested to explore Industry 4.0

18th November 2020
Alex Lynn

The capacity, reactivity and flexibility of 5G enables various new real-time use cases, including private wireless networks for smart factories. With 5G use cases creating demanding requirements for coverage, latency, and reliability, deployment can pose challenges for network planners and operators.

As Rohde & Schwarz provides a wide portfolio of wireless network testing solutions addressing Industry 4.0 use cases, it has initiated its own campus network, in preparation for the development of smart factories. This has allowed Rohde & Schwarz to optimise production processes and to validate its own network testing solutions first hand.

Beginning July 2020, a private wireless 5G NSA (non-standalone) wireless network, based on Nokia’s flexible and scalable DAC solution, has been deployed in one of the Rohde & Schwarz production sites in Germany. The set-up encompasses 5G gNodeBs in NSA mode using the frequency band n78, supplemented by LTE as the anchor in frequency band 40.

The indoor network covers an area of about 1,500m2. Both companies are using solutions from the Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing portfolio for site acceptance and coverage testing with the aim of ensuring high performance network quality. The equipment in use includes the R&S FPH handheld spectrum analyser, the R&S TSMx6 scanning receiver, the QualiPoc Android smartphone-based network optimiser and the R&S 5G STS site testing solution.

Following installation of this 5G campus network at the Teisnach plant, Rohde & Schwarz is gaining valuable insights into testing 5G coverage, capacity and configuration parameters in a real factory environment. Rohde & Schwarz will apply findings from this pioneering project to improving its own test equipment portfolio and to support customers rolling out and optimising their own campus networks. Additionally, the company is preparing its production facility for the future by paving the way for Industry 4.0 features such as automated guided vehicles (AGV) and advanced robotics.

How testing makes factories smart

5G introduces the possibility of faster and safer operations, as well as new capabilities and efficiencies in industrial processes. It also creates some degree of complexity and performance demands for the network. Industry 4.0 applications in particular create specific demands on communications technology with regard to latency, reliability and security.

To support highly reliable wireless connectivity in a smart factory, it is crucial to cover the following test phases: rollout preparation and spectrum clearance for a clean RF environment inside the factory, acceptance testing for correctly installed network infrastructure as well as coverage and performance testing.

In addition to this, 24/7 real-time service quality monitoring and tests for regulatory compliance are recommended. Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing provides the necessary tools for each of these phases. Accurate and insightful testing to prepare, deploy and operate smart factories enables faster rollout, efficient use of network resources and awareness of issues before they become critical.

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