- Rohde & Schwarz installed its own 5G network in one of its plants in Germany to evaluate the potential of 5G communications technologies for industrial applications and to validate its own wireless network test solutions.
The capacity, responsiveness and flexibility offered by 5G technologies enable new real-time applications that meet the requirements of the Industry of the Future or Industry 4.0 to be implemented in plants where private wireless networks are deployed.
Industrial applications based on 5G communications, however, have high requirements in terms of coverage, latency and reliability. This can cause problems for installers and operators when deploying 5G networks. Rohde & Schwarz has therefore installed a 5G network at its Teisnach plant in order to assess its potential and identify the problems to be solved. In addition, the German manufacturer intends to use 5G communication technologies to optimize its production processes while validating its own wireless network test solutions.
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 1,500 m2. 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 analyzer, the R&S TSMx6 scanning receiver, the QualiPoc Android smartphone-based network optimizer 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 optimizing 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.