Tenfold connectivity, “mother” of new possibilities

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Adapting in real-time and having a flexible organization are challenges now faced by each manufacturer. The health crisis linked to COVID-19 has accentuated these pre-existing challenges. To adapt, the factory of the future will be digital and connected, the company hybrid and agile. It remains to be seen how!

The speed is not everything – 5G is 100 times faster than 4G – but will indeed contribute to the changeover! Thanks to 5G, manufacturers will have strategic elements, namely:

  •       Reliable, wireless connectivity
  •       A breakdown of the network by type of use,
  •       Reduced latency times.

The scaling up of industrial big data is taking place, and with it new uses such as the massive IoT. Predictive maintenance of machines such as autonomous vehicles in the factory is among the popular uses. “Modern industrial tools generate a huge amount of data necessary for the manufacturing process: quantities, temperatures, pressures, dimensions, durations, and many other physical variables. These data constitute an asset that must be valued by the customers who use the manufactured product, as well as by their partners or even other players. This around and beyond the product service opportunity can generate substantial revenues, with unprecedented margin levels in the industrial world. You just have to dare to use a different economic model, marketing model, and organization,” says Bruno Cracco, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Bengs.

New applications

Codename: 5G Steel. Launched at the end of 2021, it is the largest industrial 5G network in France. This 4G/5G network in industrial and critical environments is managed by ArcelorMittal and combines Orange Business (integrator) and Ericsson (private network expert). The initiative, supported by the State within the framework of France Reliance, will experiment for 3 years with the contributions of such a tool. Targeted at the various trades (production, maintenance, logistics, etc.), the targeted industrial use cases include in particular:

  •       The mobility of people in a work situation,
  •       Autonomous rail vehicles in Dunkirk and Florange,
  •       Autonomous road vehicles,
  •       Mobile maintenance with feedback from the field,
  •       Virtual or augmented reality and security devices.

The advent of 5G Steel heralds a new era of industrial progress for Arcelor Mittal. In concrete terms, its maintenance teams equipped with tablets will be able to sequence actions and access the necessary documentation. Once the maintenance operation has been carried out, they will validate it and record it directly in the company’s information systems. With augmented reality, teams will also be able to access image documentary resources or call on a live remote expert.

ArcelorMittal’s dedication to digital transformation is unwavering, as the company actively takes the lead in digitalizing the steel industry. In production, maintenance, logistics, and development, digital technologies have already begun to transform our processes, increase the reliability of our operations and improve the comfort and safety of our teams”, observes David Glijer, Director of Digital Transformation of ArcelorMittal France.

Another example of expected progress is autonomous transport by rail. On the Dunkirk site, 44 kilometers of railway exist to transport the products between the different manufacturing stages. With EasyMile, ArcelorMittal will launch the first autonomous train on the internal private network, which will be put into service in 2023.

Private networks and sovereignty

The objective of 5G Steel is also to enable the development of the French ecosystem around the value chain of these industrial uses. On the subject, the Institute for Technological Research (IRT) B-com, based in Rennes, has just commercially launched its private 5G network solution, financed in part by the recovery plan of the French State. “Dôme” – that’s its name – will be able to respond to various use cases for manufacturers and businesses. It is the concrete translation of one of the two areas of expertise on which the IRT works, namely networks and security (network architecture, IA, 5G, IoT, cybersecurity).

The infrastructure is said to be “sovereign”. We must understand the meaning of the fact that B-com controls all the elements, from the heart of the network to the RAN (radio access network), and up to the cybersecurity components, which use artificial intelligence techniques to detect weak cyberattack signals.

This time, the IRT is working with several OEMs on the RAN, such as Nokia, Amarisoft, and AW2S. Major integrators should quickly market the solution, such as Atos, Capgemini, or Orange.

Edge computing and AI

“Data processing at the edge of the network” – or Edge computing – should become widespread.

The analysis of data closer to the object, and no longer in the Cloud, does indeed offer advantages. 5G antennas would then play the role of micro-datacenters. At a time when cybersecurity is a key issue, having your data on-site, without unnecessary flows and nearby, is no longer secondary! During the recent Mobile World Congress, Jérôme Sandrini highlighted a compelling vision for the future of business processes. While acknowledging the current centralization of business processes on the Cloud, he expressed a belief that a significant shift is on the horizon, with processes gradually moving towards the edge.

The French consulting firm Aster Fab estimated that 9% of data was processed by Edge computing worldwide in 2020… A rate that could reach 75% in 2025!