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5G is Here: What Does it Mean for the Factory?


Related Content

To learn more about 5G and the smart factory read Moving the Needle to Industry 4.0 with 5G and the Edge and listen to The 5G Factory of the Future with Capgemini.


Corporate Participants

Christina Cardoza
Associate Editorial Director,

Philippe Ravix
Global Digital Manufacturing Solution Architect, Capgemini

Sander Rotmensen
Director of Industrial Wireless Communication Products, Siemens

Martin Garner
Chief Operating Officer, CCS Insight


Christina Cardoza: Hello and welcome to the webinar, “5G is Here: What Does it Mean for the Factory?” I’m your moderator, Christina Cardoza, Associate Editorial Director at

(On screen: intro slide introducing the webinar topic and panelists)

And here to talk more about this topic, we have a panel of expert guests from Siemens, Capgemini, and CCS Insight.

So before we jump into our conversation, let’s get to know our guests. I’ll start with you, Philippe. Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your role at Capgemini.

Philippe Ravix: Happy to be there. I’m Philippe Ravix. I’m based in France. I’m part of Capgemini in the Digital Manufacturing offering at the group level. I’m a solution architect or CTO. I work in the manufacturing IT/OT landscape for more than 10 years, supporting and– supporting clients in their digital transformation journey. My role in Capgemini is to support the global business lines, the business lines, in fact, during the sales, pre-sales, or first phase of the project to shape, to define the architecture, and also to put our best partners in the loop to support the digital transformation of our clients. I have also another role in the alliance, with Intel Alliance. I’m leading the Intel Alliance through the smart services streams. Meaning globally IoT, IoT instance of classical IoT, and also industrial IoT landscape.

Christina Cardoza: Great to have you. Sander, I’ll turn to you next.

Sander Rotmensen: Okay, thank you. So my name is Sander Rotmensen. I’m with Siemens Digital Industries. I’m responsible for our industrial wireless communications portfolio, which includes industrial wireless LAN, 2G, 3G, 4G, WiMAX, and since last year as well, our 5G and devices, and we’re currently working on creating our full 5G ecosystem, which consists of a private 5G network, and I’m looking forward to discuss what 5G is here for and what it does mean to the factory.

Christina Cardoza: Great, looking forward to hear that as well. And last but not least, our good friend Martin. Thanks for joining the webinar.

Martin Garner: Yes, thank you, Christina. So I’m Martin Garner. I work for CCS Insight. We’re a medium-sized firm of industry analysts based in London and in the US, and I lead the work we do in industrial IoT, the research that we do, and I’m also the COO of the firm.

Christina Cardoza: Great. Thanks, everyone, for being here today. Let’s take a quick look at our agenda.

(On screen: slide outlining the webinar’s agenda)

Our guests are going to go through the promise of 5G. What this means in industrial and manufacturing; key 5G considerations when you’re looking to deploy these networks; how it’s being used already in the factory and where it’s going; how it compares to private 5G, and when would you use private versus public 5G; and then looking at it compared to other cellular technologies like Wi-Fi 6, and we’ll also look towards the future of where 5G is going.

So let’s get started.

(On screen: The promise of 5G and illustration of buildings connected to a network)

There has been a lot of hype around 5G recently, and there’s this expectation that it’s going to transform the industrial space, leaving many manufacturers wondering how they can take advantage of this technology.

So Martin, I want to turn this first question to you. What has been driving this interest and rapid adoption towards 5G?

Martin Garner: Well, I think– Thank you, Christina. I think it’s clear that if we have good high-bandwidth wireless communications across a wide space, like a factory floor or something, if we have that, and we can trust it, and it has industrial features, then we can unlock quite a lot of flexibility for production systems on all kinds of factory sites. We can also do much more easily things like autonomous robots, autonomous vehicles. It would change the logistics on-site quite a lot, and 5G is really interesting because it’s the first wireless networking technology that’s designed to do that job.

Now, the good thing about private 5G is that you can do it yourself, and you don’t have to work with a telco, and you have full control over all the parameters and the security and the integration and so on. So I think those are the things that are driving it. I think fair to say, it’s early days, and maybe expectations are running a little ahead of reality at the moment.

Christina Cardoza: I love that you mentioned that 5G comes with more promises than previous generations of mobile networks, and I mentioned how the hype around 5G has been great lately, and with every G it seems like there has been this hype around it. So Philippe, can you talk a little bit about how 5G compares to previous generations of mobile networks, and why 5G is having such more promise to the manufacturing industry than before?

Philippe Ravix: Thank you, Christina. So, compared to the previous generation of cellular technology, 5G for sure for manufacturing is really a promise. First, because the bandwidth, the speed, the latency will increase– will drastically increase, in fact, in terms of performance, in fact. And it’s the first network today with the promise of 5G that can support the different use cases in manufacturing, in fact, so there is no comparison. But in manufacturing today, there is not so much I would say cellular connectivity to support the industrial or manufacturing process. We are more looking– we are more speaking and discussing about Wi-Fi technology for global connectivity, industrial connectivity, for more machine PLC connectivity, so meaning wire connectivity, or we’d say classical IoT connectivity like BLE for more IoT sensors, in fact. So, meaning that the adoption of cellular, even 4G or LTE, are not so deployed in manufacturing. But with 5G we have, I will say as Martin explained, one or all-in-one, in fact, with the slicing. So you can merge the, I would say, low latency requirement or features, you can also use the [LT1], so the low volume. You can also have classical 4G features. We can have high bandwidth. So you can have in one network everything. But now the point is that how and when the manufacturing will adopt 5G to be deployed in the plant, that it’s not the case today, and also, what about the new Wi-Fi 6 that is more or less the same features and the performance of the 5G?

(On screen: The promise of 5G and illustration of buildings connected to a network)

Christina Cardoza: Great points. We’ll be getting to the private 5G networks, like Martin mentioned, a little bit later in the conversation, as well as what Wi-Fi 6 means in all of this. But let’s first look a little bit deeper into what 5G means for the factory.

(On screen: The factory of the future with illustration of robotic arms on the assembly line)

So Sander, I want to start with you in this topic. What is the significance of 5G adoption, would you say, in the manufacturing space? And can you talk about– talk a little bit more about some of the benefits Philippe was just talking about? What are the opportunities that this technology really presents?

Sander Rotmensen: Yes, I think I can, Christina. So first of all, there is a reason why we, for example, in 2016, joined the 3GPP to ensure that requirements from industrial applications and use cases were part of the standardization. It was not just Siemens, there were other companies as well, but we wanted to make sure to make our voice heard. And if you are looking for a solution in a factory, or for a challenge everywhere in the world, you want to discuss this with people, and you want to make sure it’s part of the standardization as soon as possible. And some of those points you will be seeing in the upcoming releases of 5G. So 5G comes in different releases. Currently, we work with our cell phones, which are working on Release 15 most of the time. I think this year, we will see some Release 16 coming ahead. But starting with Release 16, it starts getting interesting for the industry because that is where those promises from Philippe, and as well Martin, which they mentioned, are going to be part of the standard and hopefully also products.

So when we talk, for example, about features in Release 16 and 17, we talk about your URLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication). So that will allow us to communicate roundtrip delay times from less than 10 milliseconds, and that’s with a reliability of 99.999%. So if we combine those and really bring this to life in a factory setting, we are able to maybe take some intelligence out of moving equipment, which makes them lighter, simpler, and then they have a central control so that they could work together for example, and this is where we see that coming together in the future. When we look at process automation, we talk about massive machine-type communication, where we see possibilities with power-saving communication. So having a wireless transmitter maybe operated on a battery completely making it wire-free in the future, and I think these are just two examples of the opportunities. There are much more and yes, we’ll probably cover some more later on in this session.

Christina Cardoza: Now, you mentioned some standardization that needs to happen, as well as different releases or flavors of 5G coming out. So I’m curious, Sander, if you can lay the landscape out today a little bit. Where are we actually with being able to take advantage of all these 5G benefits it has to offer, all the features out there for the manufacturing industry, and what’s still to come?

Sander Rotmensen: Oh, there’s so much to come, but yes, that’s a good point. So currently we are working– if you look at the standardization, we are just at the forefront of getting Release 17 released, but if you look at the market currently, what is available, it’s just Release 15 technology. So typically, we are three years behind. So if a standard is released– for example, Release 15 was released in December 2018. The first products hit the market in a consumer space I would say in 2020, whereas in industry, we’re always a little bit behind because we need to ensure that the products work because imagine a 5G device stopping to work and your nuclear power plant just stops. That will be devastating, and therefore we need to have proven technology. We want to make sure it works. So we do system testing, not only product testing, and those things are very important to us and to our customers, and the users of 5G in industrial settings as well, and this is where we are looking at right now.

So July 2020, Release 16 was released. You can expect, I think, a product somewhere in spring 2023, mid-2023, and then also what we see currently there’s a steep uptake in private networking. So private 5G networks, you’ll see them coming now when we talk about standalone networks. They are becoming more visible. People start using them as well, but it’s still in a trial phase. There are not really many companies really putting this out there and putting this in the fields. I think for that we still need to wait maybe around two years to see that really becoming a mainstream wireless technology.

Christina Cardoza: And Philippe, you’re working with a lot of customers to deploy these technologies. So I’m wondering what trends you’re seeing currently and how you’re seeing the manufacturing space adopt 5G today.

Philippe Ravix: Yes, and I fully agree, in fact. Yes, we consider that we are at the beginning of the journey. Meaning that we don’t see any clients with a 5G deployment at scale in the block. So, if we consider different manufacturing like the process, discrete, or assembly, or if you have another segmentation like the factories and for the first one that everything is in the plant, in fact, and after the distributed assets that we see in renewables, chemistry plants, and in ports, and so on.

So, for the first one, for the factory, we are at the beginning of the journey of the story, with small proof of concept. In fact, our clients want to evaluate the business value and the key 5G use cases they will be able to support in the future. And also we want to understand, for sure, the debt and the total investment they will have to do for a 5G deployment.

For the second segment, the distributed asset, the market is more in advance. We have many pilots for customers in Europe and US, for example, for smart airports, smart ports, or mining companies. We are more in the pilot phase with 5G deployment, but for testing. Not full deployment. So this is where we see where the market is today, and after, for sure, there is also geo-segmentation. Meaning the majority in Asia is much more better than we have in Europe and in North America. So we have the segmentation from the industry, but also I would say the country or geo-segmentation that we should take into consideration. But for sure, what to expect for Capgemini as the system integrator is to have a mature market not before 2024/2025.

Christina Cardoza: (On screen: Key 5G considerations with illustration of person looking at a 5G network abstract)

Great, and since we are still at the beginning of this, and this is a new technology for everybody, I want to turn back to you, Martin, and can you talk about some of the challenges that you’re seeing when it comes to adopting 5G?

Martin Garner: Following on from what Sander said, that a couple of years after the standardization, that’s when we’ll see products that we know definitely work well enough to go into factory environments. At that point, for the factory, it’s still quite a new technology, and it’s a complicated technology. So the customers don’t have the expertise and the experience they need to use it properly. They think it will do certain things, but they don’t really know yet.

And the other thing I think is really interesting here is that we need to think of it as much more than just connectivity. It’s not just a substitute for an Ethernet cable. What we’re really offering here is highly connected edge computing, and so that’s a whole stack of software and will tend to bring potentially quite a lot of change. So we need to make sure, first of all, that the workers are happy with the technology in the factory. And we know about conspiracy theorists in 5G and so on. We can expect a lot of change in working practices and processes, in optimization, and so on, and so as Philippe said, lots of proof of concepts, lots of security vetting, and that might take 12, 18 months, something like that. And then when you’re ready to go, you can’t just go next week. You have to wait until you have a planned shutdown, and that may be months away, and so you do all of your work, and then you still have months more delay before you’re allowed to start setting it up in the factory, because the factory is working all the time. And so, there are some big, long cycles built into the way that people will adopt 5G here.

Christina Cardoza: Yes, that’s a great point that you can’t shut down the factory to start doing all this stuff. You need to really have a plan for this. And speaking of connectivity, 5G brings up the conversation or the debate, should we be wired, or should we be using wireless connectivity? And Sander, I know we’ve had this conversation before. How do you decide between wired and wireless connectivity, or can you talk a little bit about what the manufacturing floor looks like today?

Sander Rotmensen: So let me first start with my home office. Everything is wired, except for my headset, maybe, because I want to move around. That’s actually where we get to the factory, of course, because in the factory, we have lots of moving equipment, and there a cable is just a struggle, and with current battery lifetimes, AGVs can be operated for a long time, on one charge. We have now augmented workers where workers are being informed during the day what is happening. For example, they wear smartwatches. They could potentially have a smartphone with them, or maybe even a tablet for service purposes, and yes, we will see more and more wireless connectivity coming to the factory, but I will still say if you can use a cable because there is no constraint, use a cable, because you need to keep that air clean of things you don’t need there because spectrum is limited. It’s like the oil of 5G I would almost say. We need to ensure that we use it as little as possible, so we can have the mission-critical applications communicating over a wireless connection in a way they are able to meet the quality of service needs.

Christina Cardoza: Great and in the beginning, we talked about some of the things the industry needs to do to prepare for 5G and make sure manufacturing organizations are ready. But what exactly do these manufacturing operators need to do to prepare for 5G fully? How do you know if you’re ready for 5G, and are there any prerequisites that you need to ensure you have in place before you get there?

Philippe Ravix: Okay, good question. So, are they ready for 5G? Not really. So, the first thing is that 5G is, for sure… manufacturers are convinced that with 5G, they will be able to build intelligent factories, smart factories, and truly take advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and so on. So, they are convinced of it, in fact. Now, the point is that we are the first, if they want it– meaning that if they consider we’re already first, we consider that clients, manufacturers, as to have initiated or even started the digital manufacturing transformation journey. So it’s not only Industry 4.0. It’s much more broader. It’s what we call at Capgemini intelligent factories, or everything, in fact, and to have a clear roadmap and use cases and business value for each use case. So, this is key in fact, because 5G is a technology and they need to understand why, when, and what is the business value because of the cost, because of everything.

The second point also is something that we see is the agility in the manufacturing. So, today for the last, I would say, 40 years, there was a lot of optimization laying, and so on, in the process, but most of the time the process is what we call a 1D process. So, many machines are fixed in the ground and you can optimize machine one to machine two to machine three. With 5G– with mobility, mobility meaning even PLC and machine mobility, you can start to see a process as multi-dimensional, so meaning 3D optimization that you can start, so meaning that to be rigid, the client should also engage the discussion to optimize the process not only in this dimension. In fact, not only, or to arrange my line not only in 1D, but in 2D, even with [Z] with the 3D process optimization, so also it’s a key driver.

So this is the… I’m ready for the prerequisites. First, the point is that even if everybody is convinced of the 5G and the usage of 5G, meaning that the value of the low latency, critical use case at a high-level of automation for robots, cobots, we need to be sure that the ecosystem is ready. So meaning that we will have all the end-to-end chains, meaning from the device to the infrastructure, to the network, to the frequency, to the skills also, because it’s a new skill. It’s not Wi-Fi technologies, cellular technology at the port level in the enterprise. So everybody, every device, and all the supply chains should be ready for this. So it’s really something key for the manufacturer to be sure that, as most of the time in manufacturing, it’s critical, we need to be sure that we will have the same level of performance reliability, and SLA than the existing protocols.

Christina Cardoza: So it sounds like there’s a lot that goes into becoming 5G ready, and that it may be a while before 5G becomes a reality or mainstream in this space. So Martin, I’m curious how else you’re seeing the industry prepare, and once we do get to a place, if we ever get to that place, where we are 5G ready, what happens next? How can you prepare and then plan and implement 5G?

Martin Garner: Well, we touched on some of this with the scheduling that’s needed. I mentioned, but didn’t dig into, the need for security vetting. I’ve heard people say we designed this lovely IoT or 5G system, and then the security guys got hold of it, and they needed 12 months to assess it. So we need– that’s a hurdle we need, or a step we need to go through.

I think the other thing, and this is what we’re starting to get from the proofs of concept, is a really good understanding of where are the good use cases that we can focus on, and what’s going to drive the business case, and what does that start to look like? Because if you don’t understand the business case, you’re not going to do a big rollout yet. I think some of these are starting to be clear, and robots and AGVs we’ve already heard about. I think analyzing video streams and machine learning is another really good one, and there are lots of examples there. Another one I really like is if you’ve got a product that takes a lot of software, how do you put that software into the product on the production line, and 5G turns out to be a really good answer for that. So I think there are lots of angles on this, lots of areas we need to get right, before we can start thinking about a bigger implementation.

The other bit, actually, just linked to all of those, all of the use cases I’ve heard about have a very good sustainability angle through lower waste, lower energy use, and so on, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. It’s a real benefit where you can get it.

Christina Cardoza: Now, I want to dig deeper, a little bit, into the security aspect of 5G like you mentioned. Security is always top of mind for businesses and customers. So Sander, what threats are you seeing when deploying 5G in the manufacturing space, and how secure would you say 5G is today?

Sander Rotmensen: I think not many if you do it well. So 5G is an evolution. It’s not a new development, so it’s evolved. It’s coming from 3G, 4G, and therefore they just upgraded the security to be even better. So there is higher encryption on the air interface, for example. But we also need to think about the benefit of having a private 5G network. Because if you think about it, if you’re having a private network, you’re fully separated from the world, and you can decide who gets access to your network. So this is an additional security layer on top of what 5G is already bringing, and also you can think about how you lay out your network. For example, do you really need plant-wide coverage, or do you only need it in the center of your facility, so you don’t even have to go around the Edges? You’re using a licensed spectrum solution. So the licensed spectrum actually make sure you are the only licensee, so you are typically the only one being able to use it. So there’s no one running in with a hotspot, which automatically tries to connect to your Wi-Fi in that case, because you have this licensed spectrum with 5G, which works with a SIM card. So all these things in mind, if you combine that with current security solutions, for example, security, or defense-in-depth where you have different layers of security on top of each other, I think it’s very much doable to create a 5G system which is as secure as a wired system today.

Christina Cardoza: Now, one of the considerations I don’t think we’ve talked about yet is the idea of all of these other technologies advancing on the manufacturing floor, at the same time 5G is rising in adoption. Philippe, how do the emerging technologies like edge computing or AI play a role in all of this?

Philippe Ravix: Today, if we can summarize a plan, there was two main platforms with the cloudification. So there is the cloud, and one of the key strategies is to put all the systems, all the IT systems, even the MES today that we have, there is the customers that have some big projects to deploy and to redevelop MES on the cloud, so all in the cloud. And after that, we have the Edge platform. The Edge platform can be seen as a continuum of the cloud platform in terms of architecture, but also in terms of business. And so the Edge is becoming a key platform for manufacturers, in fact, because it can handle a lot of use cases, and use cases like low latency, critical use cases, but also it will solve– you can solve problems in terms of data regulation, data security, data privacy, but also TCO. If you don’t want to send everything to the cloud, you can optimize at this level.

So the Edge platform, it’s a kind of emerging technology, is now key. It’s not a dream, it’s a reality, it’s key, and it’s something that we deploy in the manufacturing with the continuity from the Edge to the cloud. And with the softwarization, meaning that with the software that you can deploy at the machine level, we consider also that the famous IT/OT convergence is no more existing. Everything will become IT now, even at the low level, at the machine level, and so meaning that it’s interesting, because if there is IT at the machine level, you can deploy analytics, and more and more complex analytics at this level.

And with the 5G and the speed and the new technology, you can compute in real-time, not only statistical process controls, so I would say basic trends, but complex analytics and AI at the Edge level. So 5G, it’s also a technology to leverage edge and AI at the shop floor level, and also at the other cloud level, because you will have this continuity between edge to cloud, and if you want to have a business continuity from edge to cloud, you need to have the right network in terms of latency, business continuity.

Martin Garner: I thought Philippe summed it up very well, indeed. That it’s much more than just connectivity. What we’re talking about really is edge computing in the architecture, and I think that’s where some telcos go a bit wrong. They think of it as just a connectivity thing, whereas really, what they’re selling is a proper software stack as part of a bigger architecture. I’m not sure the telcos fully understand that yet. And meanwhile, other things like Wi-Fi 6, there’s a certain amount of crossover with the features of 5G, and so I think if you own a factory, you should really check out the various options for what you’re trying to do. And I think the answer won’t be… won’t always be 5G. It’s not immediately obvious. So there’s a lot of work these guys need to go through to check out the various options first.

(On screen: 5G Factory Use Cases with illustration of robotic arms assembling a car)

Christina Cardoza: Perfect. So we know where we are and where we want to go, and the benefits and the advantages that 5G can bring to a manufacturing industry if done properly. But I want to talk about what this actually looks like in practice. So Sander, do you have any real-world use cases you can provide to describe how 5G is being adopted and deployed today?

Sander Rotmensen: Yes. So as we said, it’s two years out before it really comes into the factory, but I think I can give you some hints of what would we expect to see first.

So if you look at the factories today, when you talk about wireless LAN network, and we have those, a lot of those, because we have been supplying industrial wireless LAN solutions since well over 15 years currently. So we do have a lot of experience with industrial wireless networking, and what you typically see with a Wi-Fi network, they focus on the single application. For example, there’s one Wi-Fi network for AGVs. There is one Wi-Fi network for the IT services in a factory. There is one Wi-Fi network for an overhead monorail. There is one Wi-Fi network maybe for mobile robots, and that’s all in one factory, and I think what 5G has as an advantage over 5G, from that perspective, they can tie in multiple applications at the same time, really looking at combining AGV systems with, for example, robots where they cooperate in the same network due to the low latency, as you could imagine a car body as you see in the slide here.

(On screen: 5G Facotry Use Cases with illustration of robotic arms assembling a car)

You could see a car flow into the factory, while at the same time, there’s doors being mounted by two mobile robots on the side because they’re in time sync because of next-generation wireless technologies such as 5G, for example.

And maybe to touch up on one of the examples Martin brought up earlier, products with larger amounts of software, it’s one of my key examples of the future, with next-generation wireless technology, we will be ensuring that production of cars, for example, will be sped up. Today, if a car’s manufactured on a classical production line, the car is done. The moment the car is done, it’s put somewhere on the spot, and then someone charges it with some electricity or maybe he fills it up with gas, and then at the same time, there’s a cable being plugged in to load software on a car. Typically, that process today takes 20 to 25 minutes, but in three to five years from now, I expect the amount of data loaded on the car to be doubled. So then we’re talking about 40 to 50 minutes of time where a car is just waiting to have software flashed on it, and imagine you could utilize the already-existing wireless module inside the car, because every modern car nowadays, especially here in Europe, needs to be connected for emergency purposes, you could be able to load the software already on the car during production maybe in the future. So these are some very exciting things happening in industry where we can look at, and I’m curious to see where 5G takes us.

Christina Cardoza: Great, and Philippe, is there anything you want to add here, any examples of use cases that you’re seeing 5G already being applied, or that you see it going to be applied to soon?

Philippe Ravix: I fully agree for the use cases. In fact, the key use cases will be robotics, collaborative robots, AGVs. One of the interesting things is the quality part also, that today that is key in manufacturing, and it’s probably key in different manufacturing, for example, in engineering factory, and what we see today is that today there is a different way to manufacture. You say… I know exactly what are the key parameters that I have to put in my PLC to manufacture with the right level of quality? That it’s something that is predictive, and after you monitor the parameters, you monitor the quality, you follow the curve, the pattern and you say– and you can put some insight. Or it’s quite difficult to define the… to define these critical parameters because everything is moving. And you monitor in real-time the quality. And based on the quality, you correlate in real-time with the pattern of the– with the data coming from the machine’s PLC. You define some patterns and you’re able to adjust the production and the critical parameters to the machine in real-time because you look to the quality.

So you look to the result, the quality, and after, you adjust the process to be sure that you are in the right level of quality. And this is the number two, that it’s something very interesting that the manufacturer tried to do, and for this, it’s a pure 5G because you need to have a strong edge. You need to collect in real-time a lot of data coming both from the quality system but also from the different PLCs, and you need to have AI analytics, machine learning at the Edge level, and to be able in real-time to adjust the configuration of the projection line. And so this is a key use case that you have in life science, in the different industries, and it’s very powerful, and for sure, it’s a 5G use case.

Christina Cardoza: And Martin, you already brought up a couple of use cases, but I want to give you an opportunity to dig a little deeper into some of those examples if you’d like.

Martin Garner: Well, I’d just like to echo what Philippe and Sander have said, that it’s the real-time nature where you have to provide feedback, often within milliseconds. Otherwise, the process– if you’re painting something, and you’re monitoring the thickness of the paint, the process needs to be absolutely real-time. Otherwise, it can go a bit mad, and you get into what’s called a race condition if you’re not careful, and there aren’t many networks that can really do that, especially wireless networks. But 5G is the first one. So I think that it does open up a lot of options here. We just need to get used to using them and getting the use cases right and so on.

(On screen: Private vs. Public 5G with illustration of 5G inside a piece of hardware)

Christina Cardoza: Now, we’ve alluded to the idea of private 5G a little bit already. So let’s take a closer look at how private 5G compares to public 5G, when you should use one over the other. Martin, I’ll turn this one back to you. Since private 5G as of late is also becoming such a big topic, I think there was more spectrum allocated that is making it a little bit more possible. Can you talk to me about what private 5G means, the advantages over public 5G, and what organizations should consider?

Martin Garner: Yes, I think actually the 5G community has got the naming a little bit wrong here because private 5G can mean that you own all of the equipment and run it yourself, or it can mean that you have a dedicated slice on the public network. I think that bit’s a little ambiguous. Personally, I think if you run a factory, mostly people will prefer to own all of the equipment themselves, if they can do that, and to do that they need spectrum of course, and that’s not easy in all countries, but it is coming, as you mentioned.

I think if you go that way, the advantages are, first of all, that the data does not leave the site. This is really important because your factory data is the most competitive, sensitive, private data you have in your organization, and so people really don’t want it to leave the site if it doesn’t have to. You also have full control of the features, the security of the services that you light up on it, and if you talk nicely to your supplier, you can have it as a service, so it behaves like OpEx rather than CapEx. But the key point is that you don’t then have to deal with a telco. And I know quite a lot of people are resistant to dealing with telcos for some of these applications.

But the other point I want to bring out is that I don’t think it’s going to be either public or private. It’s quite easy to see that if you have forklift trucks or logistics, or AGVs, they might leave the site, or the logistics may go off your manufacturing site, and so they might need to roam onto the public network at some point. You might also– if you get a problem in your factory network, you might want automatic failover to the public network as a security measure. So I think it’s going to be both. Not public or private, but some of each. I just don’t think we’re starting there, and I think we’ve got the naming a bit wrong for the moment.

Christina Cardoza: Great insight, Martin. Now Sander, I’m wondering, from your perspective, how you see private 5G in the industrial space, and what you think the importance of this is going to be?

Sander Rotmensen: I think Martin already summarized it very well. I think private 5G is the way to go forward. So if we look at networking today, a wired network, it’s also private. You keep it on your factory. A wireless LAN network, it’s also private. So the next evolution is just bringing another technology in. I think with 5G being the first cellular technology where private networking is standardized, I think this is a huge benefit for industry, and this is why there will be a lot of correction. The flexibility 5G as a technology, with the different options you can set it up with, is also tremendous, and it helps you in setting your network more in a direction of a certain network.

If you, for example, would use a public network, and you probably have done a speed test once or twice on your phone, just seeing how fast it goes, you see that you typically have a very fast downlink, but a very reduced uplink, which is okay because we don’t typically share as much as what we want to know from the internet, like YouTube streaming, maybe having a movie on Netflix while you’re on a train or something like that. Within a factory, the data is not up there in the clouds, the data is on the shop floor. So you want to actually bring the data up into the cloud. So you actually have a way higher uplink scenario as you have a downlink scenario.

So typically, this worked with slots. So if you look at a public network today, you have three downlink slots versus one uplink slot. In a factory, you might want to have this the other way around, and this you can only do in a private network because all these public networks need to be synchronized among each other so they don’t disturb each other. With a private network, you have some more possibilities to set up the network to cater to your needs, or to the needs of your applications, actually. So I think this is really beneficial for industry to have this freedom.

Christina Cardoza: (On screen: Private vs. Public 5G with illustration of 5G inside a piece of hardware)

I love what you both just said, reiterating it, that I feel in the industry, and all industries, we try to pick one solution over the other. There’s no real one-size-fits-all, so there’s a lot of things you need to be looking at when going on this journey.

(On screen: 5G and Wi-Fi 6 with illustration of a cellular tower)

And one thing all of you have mentioned already is Wi-Fi 6. Now, Wi-Fi 6 is coming up at the same time as 5G, so how do these two technology standards work together, and is there one over the other? Philippe, I’m going to turn this one to you.

Philippe Ravix: Thank you, Christina. So yes, both cellular and wireless LAN have introduced new technology generations 5G and Wi-Fi 6. They have more or less the same level of performance, but now I think it’s better not to create a competition, but probably to see how those two technologies can work together.

So in terms of technology, for sure, it’s two different, the technologies. The first one, 5G, is cellular. The other one is wireless. 5G is based on licensed. Wi-Fi, it’s unlicensed bound in terms of frequency. In terms of authentication, it’s not the same technology. The same thing in security, and the use cases, we can see different usage and use cases for each technology. So from my side, and from Capgemini’s side, we can consider that Wi-Fi 6 can be used indoor, in fact, inside the plant, and to provide the different use cases, whereas the 5G can be better to cover large… to cover, I would say, a larger era, outdoor use cases, indoor-outdoor use cases, so these kind of use cases. So, there is a mix, we know that. There are the standards, and the people working on the standards try to have a convergence in technology between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, but it’s not for today. So today we see more how we can dedicate use cases in a project to Wi-Fi 6 and to 5G, waiting for the full interoperability and convergence of the two technologies.

Sander Rotmensen: And also, I think one of the key things currently why I think Wi-Fi 6 currently has maybe even an advantage is the install base of Wi-Fi networks. So if you look at Wi-Fi, for example, all Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 4, or even legacy devices like the one behind me here, they still work in new Wi-Fi networks, and with 5G, if you install a 5G network now, your end device, your cell phone, if it doesn’t support, for example, 5G, it won’t work in a standalone 5G network. So this is one of the things where I think Wi-Fi has that figured out a little bit better. And with the current install base of over 15 years in industry, there’s way more end device diversity of it all, and I think this is something where 5G needs to really learn and grow an extent, and this will happen, but I think this will take some years before it catches up on that perspective.

And also in the future, I’ll see both technologies going hand in hand. I think with 5G, we speak about different releases. With Wi-Fi, we speak about Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 7 is already not just on the horizon, I think it’s already inside. With 5G, we have the releases coming up, and then 6G is a bit further away, maybe, but all these things, we’ll need to learn from both technologies. We need to try to pick the best of both, and I think in the future, factories will definitely be utilizing 5G besides Wi-Fi 6, and maybe even other wireless technologies.

Christina Cardoza: Now, earlier in the conversation, we talked about having wired connectivity versus wireless connectivity. So I’m wondering how Wi-If, Wi-Fi 6, or 5G come into play during that conversation.

Sander Rotmensen: That is definitely exciting. So I think because these are both next-generation wireless technologies, we will have more opportunities. They are more reliable. They have lower latency. So things which were in the past not possible without a physical connection could now maybe be wireless. So I think there is a big role, and there will be more applications possible with wireless technologies in the future, and I’m curious to see what our customers come up with while using our products.

Christina Cardoza: (On screen: The Future of 5G  with illustration of robotic arm generating lots of data)

A lot to look forward to for the future, and I know we still have a long ways to go before we get there, but I want to try to look into our crystal balls a little bit and see what we can expect. Martin, I’ll turn this conversation to you. How do you hope to see 5G really come into its own over the next couple of years?

Martin Garner: Okay, well, I think one of the key things that’s come out from each of us on this call is that it’s very early days for 5G for factories. There’s a lot to get used to before we’re comfortable and happy to go for a larger implementation.

So we’re already seeing lots of proofs of concepts so people can find their way with it. I’m sure there will be some difficulties implementing it. Nothing ever goes completely smoothly, but also some difficulties in making the business case. I think the suppliers can help a lot with that. But my expectation is that after we’ve had two to three years of practice with it, we’ll start to get the formula or the template right, and then we can replicate it across customers, across sectors, and so on. And I think really, the suppliers can help a lot with that.

Now, my one concern there is that the suppliers typically are 80% engineers and 20% other, because I think the different vectors of growth, once you have 5G, is, of course, you can have more customers, but doing more for an existing customer, scaling the system up and giving more use cases and so on, it’s a really important area, and so I think all suppliers will need a lot of account management guys working systematically on that, really to get the most out of it. Maybe there’s 80% engineers, 20% other. Maybe it’s just the wrong mix for what we need in about three years’ time. So I’m hoping that we can address the account management side, and really work this system and get more out to it that way.

Christina Cardoza: And it sounds like these are all things that no one company can do alone. We’re talking about standardization for the industry. We’re talking about broader adoption, new technologies. So I know Intel has been a big proponent in this space with the rise of 5G. Philippe, I’m wondering how you’re working with them and other partners to really make this a reality for your customers and for the manufacturing industry?

Philippe Ravix: Yes, for sure. So today, complex projects are so complex that it’s a question of ecosystem and partners, with editors, with technology partners, with system integrators, even with the client today, in fact, so I think today, nobody, no company is able to deliver on one project, so there is so much complexity.

With Intel, in fact, we have a strong partnership for many years in the technology side, and we have a specific stream in 5G. So we collaborate in 5G with the engineering– on the engineering side with Intel, delegating experts to work with the internal R&D teams. We have also co-developed with Intel an Edge platform called ENSCONCE that we deploy in manufacturing transformation projects.

So what is interesting, that ENSCONCE first is based on Intel and open-source components. So, for Intel, it’s OpenNESS and OpenVINO, and it’s FlexRAN for the telco part. And the interesting point is that as 5G, private 5G and 5G, it’s also I would say an Edge network. The objective is to create, it’s to converge, and to fusion the Edge platform with the, I will say, 5G Edge in one platform, so meaning that we simplify the Edge infrastructure at the manufacturing level, and we’re also able to leverage analytics and data in the same platform. So it’s also– this platform that we have built with Intel, it’s also a way to simplify and to address the convergence between telco and IT at the shop floor level. And so it’s where it’s very powerful because it’s also one of the key elements that we see in the market. In fact, the simplification and convergence of the technology.

Christina Cardoza: Great. Now, Martin, I’m wondering if you can add a little bit to that, how you see companies like Intel making this space more of a reality, and how manufacturing organizations can work with these partners to make their deployment efforts a little easier.

Martin Garner: Yes, sure, and I mean, we shouldn’t forget that Intel is doing some seminal work on the 5G products themselves, and the use of commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, empowering them, which is very different from the mobile network world we used to have, and so that’s quite an important direction of travel.

But just to echo what Philippe said, really, it’s always a team game, because these are big, complicated systems, and no one partner can do everything themselves. And one of the things Intel has done really well, especially in the IoT world, but it’s broader than that, is to organize groups of partners around specific use cases to deliver systems, and I think that the need for that is just going to continue for at least the next 10 years. I think Intel is well placed to do that. There are others who are doing it too, of course, but Intel is one of the good ones.

Christina Cardoza: Thanks for that, Martin, and we’re talking about all of these changes happening over the next couple of years. So I’m wondering, how can you actually start approaching 5G today and ensure the work that you’re doing on your efforts and your journey is going to make sense in the future. Sander, can you provide a little bit more insight into that?

Sander Rotmensen: Yes, I think, again, so what we are doing currently is we are currently in the midst of developing our own product solutions for the private 5G area. So that’s 5G Core from Siemens, including a RAN system from Siemens, but we also want to give customers early access. So what we have done so far is we have a couple of proof of concepts which we are running in our own factories, as well as some outside of Siemens, but we’re actually taking this to the next level on the Hannover Fair this year. The 5G smart venue was opened and we actually equipped Hall 9 of the Hannover fairgrounds, in Hannover of course, with a private 5G network and we invited customers there to come rent a hall, and start testing their applications without the need to invest in a full 5G setup for themselves. So they can see if there are any benefits for the application, and we especially do this to help out small and medium enterprises, because imagine, you’re an AGV builder and this is your product, and you’re wanting to sell these maybe to a large car manufacturer and he says, “Yes, I’m very interested in your product, but does it work with 5G?” And you cannot answer. And then these opportunities are very great. They could rent out Hall 9, test their solution with, for example, our 5G network, and they could actually show their customer, “You see, it works with 5G. We have added a Siemens 5G modem is running here, and their private 5G prototype, and this will definitely also work in your facility”. So it’s really giving access to technology to all players in the market, because such innovative solutions need to be accessible by all, and what we need to ensure is that this technology is driven from Germany, of course, because we are one of the industrial leadership countries in the world.

Christina Cardoza: Unfortunately, we’re nearing the end of time for our conversation, but one last topic that I want to touch upon is we’ve been talking about 5G, and it’s very clear, we’re still at the beginning of this, but at the same time, conversations are starting to happen around 6G. So, Martin, I’m wondering, when do we need to start thinking about 6G?

Martin Garner: I would say 6G is not a reason to stop doing anything, and don’t use 6G as an excuse to not buy 5G or not investigate 5G. If we thought 5G was new and young, 6G is extremely new and young. So I would say get on with it, with the systems that we have today, and worry about 6G when it arrives.

Christina Cardoza: Great, it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of this topic. There’s so much that goes into 5G and so many opportunities ahead to look forward to. So before we go, I just want to throw it back to each of you, if you have any final key thoughts or key takeaways you want to leave our attendees with today. Philippe, I’ll start with you.

Philippe Ravix: So for the takeaway, what we say is that the manufacturer is moving to a manufacturing-as-a-service strategy or concept, in fact. But until now, a company that, for example, has many plants around the world, for plants all over the world, in fact, see each plant has local and siloed capabilities. In the future, a company with 200 plants will see all those plants as production capabilities, and they should be able to in real-time, with the right agility and speed, to say I will produce at this location and this location, I have an issue in this plant in this location because of sustainability, because of the cost of the energy, because of the cost of the raw material, or because of the supply chain, and I need to produce at this plant. So to have this kind of global flexibility, saying all the plants, the factories, as a kind of virtual manufacturing plant, in fact, so what we call manufacturing-as-a-service. So this is how we consider the future.

Christina Cardoza: Thanks for that, and Sander, anything you’d like to add?

Sander Rotmensen: Yes, of course. I think from my side, it’s quite simple. Look at your factory, see if you have use cases, and see if 5G could be a benefit for you. Make sure you start thinking about it early on. Make sure you have a concept where you want to enhance things, where you could do better as you do today with a new technology. And from my personal perspective, please start using it because it’s going to be a tremendous technology with lots of opportunities coming up in the next decade.

Christina Cardoza: Again, last but not least, Martin, what do you want to leave our attendees with today?

Martin Garner: Thanks, Christina. Well, I would say we’ve heard how early it is in the 5G journey, and we also know that industrial buyers have slower buying cycles than many areas, and so I think the next three to four years may feel a bit frustrating for suppliers in the market, and the message really is, don’t allow yourself to get frustrated. Don’t keep chopping and changing the marketing messages because the last one didn’t work. Just keep going and work the relationships that you have, and I think over three to five years, it will start to come really good. But don’t get fed up in the meantime.

(On screen: Thank You Slide pointing attendees to visit to learn more)

Christina Cardoza: Perfect. Well, thank you all again for joining the webinar today and for the insightful conversation.

I also want to thank our audience for listening today. If you’d like to learn more about 5G and its role in the future, I invite you all to visit where we have a wealth of articles and podcasts on the subject.

Until next time, I’m Christina Cardoza with

The preceding transcript is provided to ensure accessibility and is intended to accurately capture an informal conversation. The transcript may contain improper uses of trademarked terms and as such should not be used for any other purposes. For more information, please see the Intel® trademark information.

About the Author

Christina Cardoza is an Editorial Director for Previously, she was the News Editor of the software development magazine SD Times and IT operations online publication ITOps Times. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Stony Brook University, and has been writing about software development and technology throughout her entire career.

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