Siemens reported Sept. 28 that it’s launching a private infrastructure developed in-house for the 5G mobile communications standard. This solution enables industrial companies to build their own local 5G networks that will provide optimal support for automation applications. The solution is already in use at Siemens plants and pilot customers like Salzgitter AG.
"By building their own 5G networks, industrial companies are launching the next stage of connected production," says Axel Lorenz, CEO of process automation at Siemens. "5G is crucial for applications like mobile robots, autonomous logistics, and driverless transport systems in factories. Siemens' private 5G infrastructure also gives users sole control over the data in their 5G network at all times, and they can customconfigure the network for their applications."
Other scenarios for industrial 5G wireless technology include integrated use of connected tablets, VR glasses and smart tools. In addition, edge devices can be used flexibly, for example, in brownfield applications where it’s difficult to lay cables. Compared to other wireless technologies, private 5G networks use a licensed frequency band, which let them operate without interference.
Siemens developed its 5G infrastructure for the requirements of industrial customers and applications. It consists of a 5G core and a radio access network (RAN). The RAN includes the central unit (CU), the distributed unit (DU), and the radio units (RUs). Different 5G end-devices can connect to the 5G infrastructure and communicate in the private network. The all-in-one 5G solution is also designed for use in harsh industrial environments.
Before the market launch, Siemens tested its private 5G infrastructure in real production environments, such as its production site in Karlsruhe. By implementing and operating the prototype network in its own production facilities, Siemens tested and refined the technology, ensuring it can withstand the requirements of industrial production environments and support industrial applications. The private Siemens 5G infrastructure is now available in Germany, and other countries will follow.
One of the pilot customers for the complete 5G solution is German steel group Salzgitter AG. "We don't just want to build any 5G network. We want an industrial 5G that meets the enormous requirements of the steel industry," says Gerd Baresch, CTO at
Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH. "Wherever we need to wirelessly transmit data reliably and securely—from real-time camera images to safety-relevant emergency-stop signals for driverless transport system—we need future-proof communication technology. Siemens has been a longstanding reliable partner for network solutions, and this is precisely why we decided to work with them."
Siemens has been offering industrial 5G routers like the SCALANCE MUM853-1 and MUM856-1 for connecting robots, AGVs, and other industrial devices to a private 5G network since 2021. These routers are the final components necessary for efficient wireless connectivity in industrial environments.