EtherNet/IP is ready for industrial Private 5G
5G was designed from the ground up with ultra-reliability, low latency and a broad range of spectrum options in mind to meet the demanding requirements of Industrial IoT (IIoT) and industrial automation. With millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and private networks, 5G delivers these benefits for standard and safety control applications with numerous industrial sensors, actuators and controllers. 5G offers the promise of being a viable technology to augment and even replace traditional wired industrial network connections – a game changer in terms of cost, flexibility, sustainability and time-to-market for industrial operations around the world!
Sustainability policies are growing in importance across all industrial sector verticals. Adopting more sustainable policies is good for business. Tethered fixed industrial assets (skids, machines or equipment) require costly wired infrastructure for new installations; this material usage negatively impacts sustainability initiatives. Tethered fixed industrial assets also impact the agility of industrial operations by impeding quick retooling to respond to dynamic market conditions.
Yet, the entire manufacturing industry had to retool their industrial operations to meet shifting demand during the global pandemic: switching from soda to sanitizer, clothing to medical masks, or automotive parts to ventilators. The lesson is that agility, efficiency, resiliency and sustainability in smart manufacturing is a critical national imperative!
In comes industrial Private 5G, an enabler of digital transformation in smart manufacturing to help deliver business outcomes such as sustainability and agility by supporting key application use cases:
- Connected worker applications increase visibility and intelligence through mobile digital tools such as analytics, digital twins and augmented reality (AR).
- Mobile asset applications increase agility and efficiency with autonomous vehicles such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMR).
- Untethered fixed industrial asset applications improve sustainability by reducing the need for wired infrastructure to connect static equipment, static equipment with rotating parts (slip-ring replacement) and nomadic equipment (operational while static, non-operational while mobile). Untethered fixed industrial assets also increase agility by reducing the time to retool industrial operations to respond to changing market conditions.
Can industrial Private 5G help to enable these application uses cases within manufacturing and process operations?
To address this question Rockwell Automation (industry leader in industrial automation) collaborated with Ericsson (industry leader in cellular networking infrastructure), Qualcomm (industry leader in embedded devices) and Verizon (leading network service provider). The research collaboration evaluated industrial Private 5G technology with ODVA’s EtherNet/IP™, which is the core industrial communications technology used by Rockwell Automation. The key learning objective was to ensure that EtherNet/IP networks are ready for industrial Private 5G and to confirm that industrial Private 5G is ready for demanding EtherNet/IP applications.
The illustration is a simplified representation of the testbed developed. It represents an untethered fixed industrial asset application use case, consisting of:
- Rockwell Automation standard and safety control. One area controller with a GuardLogix® safety controller. Twelve distributed areas with FLEX 5000® standard and safety I/O, representing skids, machines or equipment. Note, the purpose of the safety controller in each distributed area was to collect testbed telemetry data only.
- Ericsson radio access network (RAN) infrastructure. Composed of a mmWave base station using 28 GHz (n261) and LTE band 2 using Release 15, and Private 5G core (3GPP Release-15, non-standalone (NSA), on-premise).
- Qualcomm MTP. A mobile test platform for data collection and traffic flow analysis, used as an industrial 5G to Ethernet adapter, referred to as user equipment (UE).
- Verizon’s thought leadership in industrial networking innovation with 5G was an important contribution towards defining requirements, target feature sets and scope of the testbed, including a roadmap of future validation requirements.