Internet of Things

applications. Some companies are already planning to set up their own private 5G networks. These networks have to be integrated into the existing communications environment, validated and maintained. That is a real challenge for planners and operators. The general integration conditions have already been defined, and the first test and monitoring solutions are available. Mobile network operators worldwide are


presently upgrading their networks for 5G. The new mobile communications standard offers not only higher data rates for smartphone users, but also specifications for special internet of things (IoT) applications (use cases), for autonomous driving and for the smart factory sector (Industry 4.0). These specifications are also suitable for private local networks such as companies’ production networks.

The benefiTs of privaTe 5G neTworks

Modern manufacturing companies generate large amounts of data, and processing this data will become more and more important in the course of digitalisation. Especially the need for flexible production line layouts that can be reconfigured at any time makes reliable wireless communications essential. This flexibility is especially advantageous when automatic guided vehicles (AGV) are used. There are numerous other applications, including remote human- machine interfaces (HMI) and automatic software updates for mobile machinery such as rotating machines. Reliable and secure communications is a basic prerequisite for all of these applications. An in-house communications network, possibly based on interference-free private spectrum, provides the necessary reliability.

specTrum for privaTe neTworks

Some countries, such as the UK and Japan, have already allocated a local spectrum for industrial applications, and many others are considering doing so. Since 21 November 2019, companies as well as forestry and agricultural enterprises in Germany have been able to apply to the German Federal Network Agency for a local spectrum in the range of 3.7 GHz to 3.8 GHz. For a fee, they are allocated a private spectrum for the requested duration. However, it is not mandatory to use this frequency band. Public operators use network slicing technology to offer their spectrum for use in local industrial applications or campus networks. This means that in Germany both public operators’ frequency bands as well as the private spectrum from 3.7 GHz to 3.8 GHz are available.

neTwork varianTs

A decisive question when planning a private 5G network is whether it will be a pure indoor network or an outdoor network. An indoor network uses communications technology to


G, with its various specified use cases, is also suitable for private production networks and other automation

Private 5G networks for Industry 4.0

provide coverage within a building or a building complex. A dedicated indoor implementation of a communications network is a good option when good wireless coverage is needed, for example to control machines on a production line. Today, this can be partly achieved with WLAN. Communications networks such as LTE or 5G can be similarly used. They are especially suitable for applications where mobility and low latency are key considerations. Both are important criteria when using AGVs or machine controllers. Outdoor networks, on the other hand,

provide coverage for a specific region. In the case of Industry 4.0, this could be a large company site, an industrial area or even an entire city district. Planning an outdoor network is more complicated since it could include indoor coverage of buildings, and coexistence with other communications networks in the region must be considered.

key parameTers

The basic performance parameters are decisive for all communications networks. It is necessary to ensure sufficient coverage by measuring absolute power levels, such as

November 2020 Instrumentation Monthly

the received signal strength of the broadcast signal. It is also important to check the signal to interference and noise ratio (SINR) and verify that the spectrum to be used is free of interference. In the case of TDD networks,

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