Blog / Business Insights /

5G and the Industry 4.0

5G and the Industry 4.0

Robin van de Merbel

Global Solution Sales Mobility & e-Transactional Services

The rise of the Industry 4.0 is reshaping the way machines interact with manufacturing systems. In this context, a machine is no longer just a production engine taking manufacturing orders, it has become an intelligent device to produce value-added services and revenue streams for the product itself.

In order to introduce smart manufacturing solutions, industrial machines need to be connected to the internet. As a result, next to the existing wired connectivity solutions, many machine suppliers have started developing solutions, based on wireless connectivity standards, such as Lora, Sigfox, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and the new 5G networks. All of the aforementioned standards try to provide the best latency, reliability, longevity and data rates, offering their own unique selling points.

The wireless solution which has received the most publicity lately is 5G. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile technology, designed to enable multiple mobile access technologies via the designated Mobile Network Operators to deliver different kind of use-cases. By applying “network slicing”, 5G can, for example, identify the data endpoints’ need for high reliability, data consumption or speed. The 5G mobile technology is often referred to as a big game changer for Massive IoT, however it is still uncertain whether it will be a game changer for industrial companies that are trying to embark on a digital transformation process. A wider internet coverage and faster data transfers might open new possibilities for industrial companies in rural areas or companies looking for new use-cases, based on wireless technology. But many of the concerns that industrial companies have, such as cyber security threats, require separate solutions.

To ensure the highest level of security, the solutions need to provide advanced security features such as:

  • Reduced attack surface for hackers
  • Categorized data and definition of whom may download it
  • Advanced user rights management (who may access which device at which location and at what time)
  • Easily open or close connections allowing their traceability and auditability
  • Encrypted file transfers
  • Antivirus for file transfers
  • Connect machines only when needed (machines are by default isolated)

 

Complex infrastructure, easy management

The more machines industrial companies will connect, the higher complexity they will have to deal with. Administrating many remote users and systems that might be allowed to access industrial machines at different locations during certain period of times only, can easily become an unmanageable task. With WL Remote Servicing and WL Digital Doorman, the connectivity management complexity is being removed by the user interface, which is easy to use and can be administered also by non-IT security experts. Hence, allowing even the most complex organizational structures to be handled with ease.

 

Machine and system heterogeneity

With an ever-increasing number of connected machines being used in industrial environments, machine heterogeneity is more important than ever to provide smart manufacturing solutions, which can be used by any machine. WL Remote Servicing and WL Digital Doorman can be used by all encapsulated IT and OT machines, regardless of the machine type, brand or supplier.

Thanks to their flexible APIs, WL Remote Servicing and WL Digital Doorman can also be used to connect and monitor ERP, EMS, IoT and analytics platforms for example. Data can flow securely through secure data tunnels and system infrastructures can be monitored for reduced downtimes.  

 

Industry 4.0

To respond to the challenges of the Industry 4.0, Worldline offers WL Remote Servicing and WL Digital Doorman, two solutions that can be used with any connectivity type, owners, customers and suppliers to securely interact with machines in industrial plants. This enables improvements such as a more customized production or an increased machine uptime thanks to faster device servicing. Additionally, it opens the door for new value-added service streams and cost reductions.

 

To conclude

Is 5G a game-changer for the Industry 4.0.? Generally speaking it’s not; 5G is another connectivity solution providing connectivity features that other connectivity solutions (with their own key features) also do.

Our solutions, WL Digital Doorman and WL Remote Servicing, are designed to respond to the digital transformation challenges of the Industry 4.0. When connections can be opened/closed as required, machines hidden from the internet and full control over industrial plant operations is guaranteed, managing industrial connectivity becomes easy and secure.

Why avoid connectivity in industrial plants for fear of cyberattacks when connectivity can be managed with the highest level of security? Improve performance and productivity in your industrial environment, start your digital transformation journey and UNLOCK THE POWER OF IIOT WITH WORLDLINE!