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Private industrial 5G network gives automation flexibility

28 September, 2023

Siemens has launched a private 5G wireless infrastructure that will allow industrial companies to build their own 5G networks to support automation applications. 5G offers many potential advantages to industrial users including the flexibility to change factory layouts without having to move data cables, low latencies, fast data speeds and high data security.

5G is regarded by many as being crucial for applications such as mobile robots, autonomous logistics, driverless transport systems and edge devices. It will also support connected tablets, VR (virtual reality) glasses and smart tools. Unlike other wireless technologies, private 5G networks use a licensed frequency band and can therefore be used without the risk of interference.

The private 5G networks – also known as campus networks – are restricted to company premises, defined areas or individual buildings. This allows users to modify them to suit their applications. The networks also give companies full control over their data, because private 5G networks use their own local 5G spectrum.

“By building their own 5G networks, industrial companies are launching the next stage of connected production,” says Axel Lorenz, CEO of Process Automation at Siemens. “5G is crucial for applications like mobile robots, autonomous logistics, and driverless transport systems in factories. Siemens' private 5G infrastructure also gives users sole control over the data in their 5G network at all times, and they can custom-configure the network for their applications.”

Before launching its 5G infrastructure commercially, Siemens tested the technology in real production environments, including one of its own sites in Karlsruhe. This allowed it to refine the technology, ensuring that it meets the needs of industrial users.

The technology was also tested at several pilot sites, including one operated by the German steel group, Salzgitter. “We want an industrial 5G that meets the enormous requirements of the steel industry,” explains Salzgitter Flachstahl’s chief technology officer, Gerd Baresch. “Wherever we need to wirelessly transmit data reliably and securely – from real-time camera images to safety-relevant emergency-stop signals for driverless transport systems – we need future-proof communication technology."

One of Siemens’ industrial 5G radio devices

Siemens’ industrial 5G infrastructure consists of a 5G core and a radio access network (RAN) that includes a central unit (CU), distributed units (DUs) and radio units (RUs). 5G end-devices can connect to the infrastructure and communicate via the private network.

Since 2021, Siemens has been offering industrial 5G for connecting robots, AGVs and other industrial devices to private 5G networks. The new routers are the final components needed to create efficient wireless 5G networks in industrial environments.

The private Siemens 5G infrastructure technology will be available initially in Germany. Other countries will follow.

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