How can industry benefit from precise and private networks?

industrial precise networks
Engineering technology and industry 4.0 smart factory. Image by World Image | Bigstockphoto

Through 5G, vertical industries will benefit from digital transformation, its promise of optimisation efficiencies and the resulting positive impact on their bottom line. But vertical industries vary widely, as do their communication network requirements.

Unlike traditional consumer-grade networks, industrial applications are sensitive to latency, require super-high reliability rates and differentiated guarantees as well as variations in self-service capability. So, how best to provide a solid foundation for industrial 5G applications, particularly in industrial parks, where so many industrial businesses are located?

Get Precise

One solution is the deployment of precise and private wireless networks. The core of this idea is to precisely match network capabilities (based on deterministic service scenarios and clear service requirements) to the needs of industrial businesses located within an industrial park and provide visualised results and independent operations and maintenance (O&M). This kind of network would require precision around network planning, slicing, measurement and O&M, and accurate identification and scheduling. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Precise Planning and Slicing

Due to the diverse requirements and complex application scenarios within different industries, planning for industrial park networks is significantly different from consumer networks. In general, consumer networks usually adopt a best-effort service strategy for end-users, with more attention paid to network-level KPIs. This is not the case for vertical industries where each business has definite requirements for delay, reliability, and bandwidth and require user-level guarantees.

So, when building a private network in an industrial park, high-precision electronic maps, 3D simulation and a big data platform are required to precisely predict – with grid granularity – network coverage requirements, site deployment and network resources. Only with this level of precision can quality of service for all scenarios and all-weather conditions be ensured.

Within an industrial park, precision over network slicing is required to divide operator networks and isolate resources from services logically. This virtualises a physical network into multiple logical virtual sliced networks so that different levels of service data can be transmitted on network slices at different logical layers to meet the differentiated requirements for data transmission rates, security, and reliability in different service scenarios. Accurate estimation of slice resources and accurate allocation and management of slice resources based on the number of users, DRB and PRB dimensions is also needed to achieve an accurate match between slices and services.

Precise Measurement

Industry customers pay more attention to service experience and the reliability of data transmission. Therefore, wireless networks need to fine-tune the granularity of performance statistics to each service flow and provide a more precise display of delay so that industry customers can better monitor service status. Precision measurement not only provides the average delay within a statistical period but also provides delay distribution, delay jitter distribution, and other indicators to facilitate comprehensive evaluation of industry applications.

Accurate Identification & Scheduling

With industrial applications so varied, it’s important to accurately identify and understand service attributes and their data transmission requirements. However, in the 5G QoS framework, the service attributes and the QoS attributes and parameters required for transmission are configured statically in the core network.

The description of the basic attributes of service flow, such as rate and packet-loss rate and delay, do not adapt well to the characteristics of a wide range of industry applications. To achieve accurate guarantees, further service flow identification and packet feature identification is needed along with conservative scheduling or enhanced pre-scheduling or delay-based scheduling. Furthermore, intelligent and closed-loop scheduling orchestration are implemented to guarantee low transmission delay, high reliability and network efficiency.

New Operation & Maintenance

Finally, a 5G network in an industrial park will face more complicated and changeable challenges in service requirements, terminal type, network design, slice deployment, and SLA guarantees compared with consumer networks. This means new precise and efficient operation and maintenance tools will be necessary to enable routine O&M to meet the requirements of large uplink, low latency, high reliability and multi-access in multiple dimensions.

The bottom line is that wireless private networks for industry use different network architectures according to different applications. Within industrial parks, many application scenarios require high network performance, such as remote control, robot production and AGV cooperative control. With public 5G a best-effort network unsuitable for these types of applications, industry-users should look for a solution that delivers enhanced bandwidth, low latency, and data that is contained within the boundary of the industrial park through precision at every stage from planning to ongoing O&M.

Network operators should partner with an infrastructure provider that has proven and in-depth experience from cooperation with various vertical industries. Look out for information on the Precise RAN solution, which enables enterprises across different vertical industries to efficiently and effectively deploy 5G networks and accelerate industry digital transformation.

By Mr. Chao Xiong, Vice President of RAN MKT, ZTE

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