Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are already being implemented across multiple industrial vertical markets spanning automotive, consumer goods, oil and gas, utilities, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and many more. Wireless connectivity continues to be a key component of this transition, providing powerful and pervasive communications across machines, people, and objects. 5G is poised to have a transforming influence in industrial manufacturing, particularly for private on-premise 5G solutions as well as public 5G. This represents one of the most significant opportunities to deploy next-generation wireless communications.
TSN-Over-5G and Industrial Automation Proof of Concept (PoC)
Time-sensitive networking (TSN)1 standards aim to improve accuracy guarantees for time-critical data, ideal for control systems receiving data from sensors, computer-vision applications, and more. 5G can deliver low-latency and ultra-reliable deterministic capabilities for industrial control systems and data traffic, along with the flexibility that wireless can provide for system connectivity across industrial manufacturing facilities and factories. TSN-over-5G supports TSN services over 5G so that industrial devices like sensors and actuators can communicate with industrial controllers wirelessly and deterministically. This aligns with Industry 4.0 solutions and has the potential to drive down costs, enable new business models, and streamline factory operations. The key enablers for TSN-over-5G are: TSN synchronization over 5G system, TSN Ethernet operation over 5G system, 5G ultra-reliable low-latency (URLLC) transmission, 5G end-to-end quality-of-service (QoS) management, and intelligent scheduler algorithms.
At Intel we are enabling the 5G ecosystems for the transition to Industry 4.0 and how they can utilize new wireless capabilities of 5G during that process. We actively participate in standards bodies like 3GPP to develop specifications to support TSN-over-5G, such as Release-16, and work with the ecosystem to create a proofs of concept (PoC) based on the early specifications using next-generation wireless technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6.
3GPP completed Release-16 standards during the summer of 2020. We engaged with Bosch, a global IIoT leader, to create an early TSN-over-5G proof of concept (PoC) implementation. The PoC includes the user equipment (UE), Radio Access Network (RAN), and Intel® Core™ processors to demonstrate all five key enablers listed above. Working in conjunction with TSN-compatible controller endpoints from Bosch Rexroth, the PoC validates the technology and demonstrates key IIoT use cases.
During the PoC, Intel and Bosch successfully demonstrated a typical TSN IIoT use case, currently supported via wireline infrastructure on the factory floor. This use case focused on the motion control of the angle and speed synchronization of high-speed rotating wheels where the primary and secondary controllers communicated over 5G using the open-standard Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture protocol. 4K HD video traffic was also carried simultaneously over the air within Intel’s 5G prototype system on a 3.7 GHz spectrum
The demonstration is one of the first to showcase 5G New Radio (NR) Release-16 TSN-over-5G features. These include both 802.1AS-based synchronization and 802.1Qbv-based, time-aware delivery of critical packets over 5G. Another result of the PoC work was that a 5G advanced scheduler, which supports URLLC and end-to-end QoS, was shown to satisfy the deterministic time-critical packet-delivery requirement. Additionally, the PoC achieved microsecond-level time synchronization, millisecond-level worst-case latency, and five-nines reliability2. The PoC also offers full flexibility for reconfiguration, scalability, and mobility via 5G wireless connectivity.
What is clear from this successful Intel and Bosch PoC is that TSN-over-5G is not only a viable technology but also represents a potentially powerful solution for manufacturers that wish to incorporate enhanced wireless capabilities for streamlined operations, time-critical data traffic, more flexible factory floor configurations, and reduced capex. The PoC supports early implementation of 5G NR Release-16 features, namely URLLC and TSN, in a mixed-traffic environment. Intel is also evolving the PoC and plans to do future testing of 5G and TSN capabilities and other Industry 4.0 solutions from other leaders like Bosch. One expanded example could include edge computing resources and dynamic workload distribution for further technology validation.
As 5G services continue to evolve, manufacturers can look forward to more advanced solutions that will enable the industry to achieve new levels of productivity. To help ensure their success, Intel and global ecosystem leaders like Bosch will continue efforts to further develop solutions that drive the future convergence of IIoT and 5G.
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