Researchers from the Mobile Wireless Internet (MWI) area of the i2CAT Foundation have successfully deployed and tested a new type of 5G private network architecture at the Bosch company’s production plant in Aranjuez (Madrid). This work is one of the demonstrations developed within the framework of 5G-CLARITY, a Horizon 2020-funded project that aims to promote the development of 5G private networks throughout Europe.
The demonstration at the Aranjuez plant proved the advantages of combining 5G, WiFi6 and LiFi connectivity systems in a real manufacturing environment. During the trial, researchers replaced the current Ethernet network in the plant with the new network architecture without changing the line equipment.
The main innovation provided by 5G-CLARITY is the so-called multi-connectivity framework, a software system that allows controlling the transmission of packets in each application through 5G, WiFi 6 and LiFi networks. “It is a very versatile system that, depending on the application, allows us to balance packets between the different networks to achieve more speed. For another application, we can decide, for example, to duplicate packets across networks and, thus, achieve more reliability and reduce latency”, explains Daniel Camps, director of the MWI area at i2CAT.
The system is also much more efficient since replacing wires used for Ethernet technology substantially reduces maintenance costs and the time required to deploy new production lines.
5G-CLARITY is also developing technological solutions to simplify the operation of 5G private networks in the industrial and manufacturing sector. “The aim is to ensure that non-5G-expert personnel can use these technologies, which will greatly facilitate their adoption in industrial environments”, concludes Daniel Camps.
12 European partners integrate the 5G-CLARITY consortium, including industrial companies, research centres and universities. The project aims to ensure Europe’s leadership in the growing markets of 5G private networks, factory automation and the consolidation of Industry 4.0.
Part of the output generated within 5G-CLARITY project has contributed to the creation, in 2020, of the centre’s spin-off Neutroon. Neutroon is the first Software as a Service (NaaS) that facilitates the management and orchestration of multiple distributed private networks, with the option to integrate different providers and technologies such as LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi. The platform incorporates a Customer Portal so companies can configure and manage the system independently and intuitively, including the networks and technologies. In addition, the platform can be scaled as the needs of the company increase or change.