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Adapting 5G to Industrial Scenarios to Unlock the Value of 5G Applications
“4G changed our lives, but 5G will change our societies”. As the most advanced communications technology thus far, 5G delivers larger bandwidth, lower latency, higher reliability, broader connectivity, and ubiquitous networks. Network slicing offers 5G the unique advantage of achieving end-to-end SLA assurance, service isolation, and operational independence. 5G represents a huge market potential because it fits in with various industries’ efforts towards digital and intelligent transformation.
5G chips, industrial modules and terminal ecosystems are also maturing through extensive applications and because key technologies such as 5G network slicing, super uplink, and MEC have been made available. The 5G use cases built on standards jointly developed by industry players are being rapidly replicated, creating new 5G business models across vertical industries and unlocking the value of 5G applications in industries.
When the steel industry meets 5G
At the recent online 5G+, Better World Summit, Mr. Guo Lihong, Vice Director of the Engineering Equipment Department of Hunan Valin Xiangtan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd.(hereinafter referred to as Hualing Xianggang), shared the experience in building a 5G-based smart factory with China Mobile Hunan and Huawei. The newly built 5G network of this steel company, with an annual output of 12 million tons, made possible bridge crane remote control, unmanned bridge cranes, high-definition video surveillance as well as slag-adding robotic arms. This helped Hualing Xianggang improve production efficiency and its working environment by reducing workplace accidents.
International 5G+ AR remote collaboration: The three parties quickly established this 5G+ AR remote collaborative assembly solution. The solution enables Valin Xianggang’s onsite engineers to use the 5G network to stream real-time videos of sites and first-person-perspective videos to expert engineers in different countries. The expert engineers are then able to remotely guide Valin Xianggang’s engineers through their assembly tasks with AR technology. This is the first time that international 5G+ AR remote collaboration has been used in the steel industry in China, which provides excellent support as enterprises look to efficiently resume work and production.
Bridge crane remote control: the three parties embedded 5G-based industrial modules into the cranes. Operators could now remotely operate bridge cranes in the steel-making zone precisely and instantaneously because 5G networks have super low latency and uplink speeds of up to 200 Mbit/s. This can also be used in such areas as scrap steel crane unloading and transferring and loading. This helped Hualing Xianggang increase production efficiency by 16% and reduce employee turnover by 15%.
Unmanned bridge cranes: The three parties went further and built unmanned bridge cranes by installing 3D scanners, rangefinders, and high-definition cameras with built-in 5G modules. These cranes are able to transmit data to the MEC edge servers in real time over 5G for 3D modeling and calculating the commands, which are then sent to the cranes. This made unmanned automated loading and transportation possible, increasing production efficiency by 33%.
One-click slag adding robots: The robotic arms and the control system operate over a 5G network, which makes it possible for the robotic arms to add slags with one click. This eliminated the need for workers to add slags near molten steel, which made these environments much safer and greatly improved production quality.
5G HD video surveillance: Since the high temperatures in the steel plant pose huge safety concerns, the three parties built a high-definition video surveillance system powered by 5G’s ultra-large bandwidth, so that managers can monitor operations within the plant in real time with multiple parallel video streams.
Working Together to Monetizing 5G Industry Applications
Following the success of 5G application in the four scenarios above, the three parties revealed plans to implement 5G to AI quality control, integrated security, intelligent lighting, intelligent unmanned cranes, robots, AR-based routine inspection/training, etc. The plans also include seamless connection between product equipment, further streamlining designs, procurement, warehousing, logistics, and more with 5G. Their aim is to build a future-oriented smart manufacturing network and accelerate the intelligent upgrading of the steel industry by serving as an example and creating industry standards.
This is undoubtedly a success story where multiple players worked together to monetize 5G industry applications, which will drive various industries to embrace 5G.
In this case, Hualing Xianggang introduced a 5G network to replace its former, complicated network and to have advanced productivity through 5G+ smart cranes. China Mobile Hunan delivered a 5G enterprise private network to satisfy the challenging demands of vertical industries.
New business models have emerged as a result of cooperation in 5G industrial applications to create new value. Hualing Xianggang and China Mobile Hunan reportedly plan to jointly build a 5G-based Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform to serve vertical industries with three layers of capabilities: network services (virtual private networks based on network slicing), cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS), and application services (general capabilities, a service ecosystem, and solutions). This is to enable various industries to benefit from digital transformation and upgrading powered by 5G.
In short, pioneering commercial use of 5G shows that it has been fully adapted to industrial scenarios regarding key technologies, ecosystems, industrial standards, and business models, and it has brought real commercial success. As 5G becomes increasingly mature in the above four areas and more success stories emerge, all industries will step up their deployment of 5G to drive the rapid replication of 5G industry applications, and unlock its ability to change society.