R&S Installs and Tests 5G Network in its Production Facility to Explore Industry 4.0 Use Cases

Rohde & Schwarz has installed a 5G campus network to leverage the possibilities and advantages of Industry 4.0 at its plant in Teisnach, Germany. The industrial-grade private 5G network infrastructure is based on the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC). Both companies will participate in the testing of the 5G campus network using Rohde & Schwarz network testing equipment to optimize their operation and performance. Gaining experience and valuable insights into private 5G network operation in its plant, and how to optimize deployment, was a major driver behind this project for Rohde & Schwarz.

The capacity, reactivity, and flexibility of 5G enable various new real-time use cases, including private wireless networks for smart factories. With 5G use cases creating demanding requirements for coverage, latency, and reliability, deployment can pose challenges for network planners and operators. As Rohde & Schwarz provides a wide portfolio of wireless network testing solutions addressing Industry 4.0 use cases, it has initiated its campus network, in preparation for the development of smart factories. This allows Rohde & Schwarz to optimize production processes and to validate its network testing solutions first hand.

Beginning July 2020, a private wireless 5G NSA (non-standalone) wireless network, based on Nokia’s flexible and scalable DAC solution, was deployed in one of the Rohde & Schwarz production sites in Germany. The set-up encompasses 5G gNodeBs in NSA mode using the frequency band n78, supplemented by LTE as the anchor in the frequency band 40. The indoor network covers an area of about 1,500 m2. Both companies are using solutions from the Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing portfolio for site acceptance and coverage testing to ensure high-performance network quality. The equipment in use includes the R&S FPH handheld spectrum analyzer, the R&S TSMx6 scanning receiver, the QualiPoc Android smartphone-based network optimizer, and the R&S 5G STS site testing solution.

Following the installation of this 5G campus network at the Teisnach plant, Rohde & Schwarz is gaining valuable insights into testing 5G coverage, capacity, and configuration parameters in a real factory environment. Rohde & Schwarz will apply findings from this pioneering project to improving its test equipment portfolio and to support customers rolling out and optimizing their campus networks. Additionally, the company is preparing its production facility for the future by paving the way for Industry 4.0 features such as automated guided vehicles (AGV) and advanced robotics.

How testing makes factories smart

5G introduces the possibility of faster and safer operations, as well as new capabilities and efficiencies in industrial processes. It also creates some degree of complexity and performance demands for the network. Industry 4.0 applications in particular create specific demands on communications technology about latency, reliability, and security.

To support highly reliable wireless connectivity in a smart factory, it is crucial to cover the following test phases: rollout preparation and spectrum clearance for a clean RF environment inside the factory, acceptance testing for correctly installed network infrastructure as well as coverage and performance testing. In addition to this, 24/7 real-time service quality monitoring and tests for regulatory compliance are recommended. Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing provides the necessary tools for each of these phases. Accurate and insightful testing to prepare, deploy, and operate smart factories enables faster rollout, efficient use of network resources, and awareness of issues before they become critical.