Peter Macus: The first 5G private campus network for the industrial revolution
Asseco CEIT recently announced that, in cooperation with the largest Slovak operator Slovak Telekom, it is planning a joint project to build a 5G private campus network on the premises of its research and development centre in Žilina. We talked about the project, as well as about the advantages of 5G technology and the campus network, with the company’s technical director, Peter Macus. He is the initiator and owner of this project at Asseco CEIT and is in charge of its smooth running and application for the needs of Industry 4.0 principles.
Could you first tell us what 5G technology is and what its benefits are for the industry?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile communication technology, which is considered a major advance. It offers users a wider range of frequencies and thanks to the speed and volume of data transmission, it is a prerequisite for their real-time transmission, which provides opportunities for a high degree of automation in industry. 5G technology in industry will enable mutual communication and the centralized control of machines and mobile production and logistics equipment remotely with an immediate response time. Diagnostics using virtual and augmented reality, or a remote service, will also be more accessible.
Logistics itself is a part of industry, and artificial intelligence is finding more and more of an application here. How do you perceive the use of 5G technology in logistics?
In the field of logistics, the 5G network can provide the advanced monitoring of material transfer in real time, an optimization of logistics flows and the possibility of diagnostics and visualization of logistics routes and equipment remotely with the help of virtual reality. Perhaps the most significant application based on the implementation of 5G technology will be seen in the development of the above-mentioned artificial intelligence in sectors where the speed of digitization and lack of data was the main issue. The 5G network supports fast device responses and allows an immediate response to AI algorithms. Genuine 5G technology allows a large number of new devices to be connected, which previously proved very complicated to connect.
The research and development centre of your company will soon become the first 5G campus network in Slovakia. What does this mean and how will it work?
Campus networks are local private wireless networks built for individual buildings or entire production plants. They operate independently of the public mobile network and, unlike the public mobile network, only selected devices on campus can be used on this campus network, which increases the level of security and control. In addition, networks can be easily adapted or combined with public networks.
And as for the operation, as it is a private network, the communication will take place via a private 5G antenna, which will be installed in the research and development centre of our company. The infrastructure of the 5G Asseco CEIT campus will also include a complete local infrastructure, such as servers, network elements and the like. The devices will communicate using 5G modules, which means that each device we want to connect to the 5G network must have a specific module that will allow it to communicate within the campus infrastructure.
Can you tell us some specific parameters?
Of course, the guaranteed latency, i.e. the speed of response, will be 10ms. Experimentally, our company will test applications at a level of about 4ms, while the typical stable data transfer rate of the Asseco CEIT campus will be 200 Mb / s for downlink and 70 Mb / s for uplink for a large number of devices at the same time.
How do you plan to use these advantages in Asseco CEIT in favour of the industrial revolution?
First of all, we want to create space for industrial companies to test the possibilities and potential advantages they could benefit from if they set up such a private network in their operations. These benefits could be various applications in production, robotics, warehousing, distribution and the like. The possibilities of use in the field of virtual and augmented reality are also interesting. In all these areas, Asseco CEIT has its own products and approaches that will gain wider application possibilities using 5G technology.
Could you be more specific?
Asseco CEIT strategically develops 3 basic areas, which are logistics automation, digital enterprise and the concept of a smart factory. As part of logistics automation, 5G technology will be applied to intelligent mobile robots, so-called AGVs, which take care of reliable, efficient and secure automatic logistics in industrial halls. They process production data, react flexibly and can even make independent decisions.
What about the concepts of Digital Enterprise and Smart Factory?
The Digital Enterprise works with a comprehensive digital image of a real enterprise, which allows changes to be made and their impact to be seen before they are implemented. Digital enterprise tools are most often used in the design of new production systems, in the design and optimization of the layout of production and logistics systems or in the detailed design of workplaces. The digital enterprise is the basis for advanced manufacturing systems in the sense of Industry 4.0. and it is digitalisation that enables companies to prepare for the revolutionary changes in production that are happening right now with the onset of fifth-generation networks.
The Smart Factory concept, in turn, works with a comprehensive virtual image of a real enterprise, where communications tools and sensor systems can generate huge amounts of data and provide information on the current state of the production system using fifth-generation networks. This enables the production environment to be virtualized.
And to be very specific, examples of applications include automatic material transport, the localization and monitoring of objects (tools, equipment) in real time – RTLS, online monitoring, analysis and navigation of logistics technology, data collection and evaluation to increase productivity, electronic kanban (E-kanban) and the like.
As I have already mentioned, Asseco CEIT has its own research and development centre, and we plan to use 5G technology to develop activities and carry out specially dedicated research for production applications, which include both production and logistics. It is 5G technology that will allow us to work on research, which we, as an innovative technology company, want to focus on.
To sum up, could you explain the intention of cooperation between your company and the operator Slovak Telekom?
The goal of building a private 5G campus network in our development centre is the fact that thanks to our research and testing, other, possibly smaller, companies which might be considering this technology and want to know in advance the scope of use for their specific purposes, will be able to test the specific features of 5G technology. Our company will make the infrastructure available to such companies free of charge and provide the opportunity to try out 5G technologies without any investment and with our support.