The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published the whitepaper ‘Wi-Fi 6/6E for Industrial IoT: Enabling Wi-Fi Determinism in an IoT World’, which explores how Wi-Fi’s latest features are ideal for meeting the unique, demanding requirements for a wide variety of existing and emerging IIoT applications.
Throughout the whitepaper, WBA explores how Wi-Fi 6/6E can be used to address key Industry 4.0 use-cases with an overview of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E capabilities that are ideal for sensors and other IIoT applications.
Providing a consistently good product or service is a primary concern for most manufacturers. When a customer can depend on the manufacturer’s product, reputation increases as does customer loyalty. Improvements in quality mark one of the top reasons industries is making a move to Industry 4.0, a transformation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices with inclusion of the latest smart
Since retrofitting a plant with sensors and actuators is expensive, it is natural to consider Wi-Fi based devices for upgrades. With more information about the process, one can improve the operations and improve quality. For instance, the steel industry is adopting cameras to monitor the precise thickness of products leaving rolling machines. With the additional information, adjustments can be made real time to ensure proper control of the resulting product.
Yield, more specifically known as first-pass yield or throughput yield, is the number of acceptable units divided by the total number of units produced. The ability to meet customer demand, then, is highly dependent on yield and becomes a primary driver for most industries.
With more information from sensors and monitors, one can employ new analytics to improve yields. Manual inspection can be replaced with AI-enhanced visual systems to reduce manufacturing errors and improve yield. Problems can be identified earlier in the process, lessening the cost of repair. Rework becomes less frequent and lessens the cost of producing the resulting goods. It should be noted that if a company is stamping out inexpensive plastic toys, yield might be more of a concern than quality. In such a case, the top two drivers in this list may be reversed. However, for a pharmaceutical company, quality will be more important than yield since a poor-quality product could be detrimental to an individual’s health.
Ubiquitous connectivity is a key requirement for Cyber Physical Systems which provide the foundation for initiatives such as Industry 4.0 or Smart Factory. It enables the transition from a hierarchical architecture to such Cyber Physical Systems for industrial automation. A converged network, with Wi-Fi as an essential part of it, provides the communication platform. It allows reliable access to data, physically represented as sensors and actors, from anywhere, as well as data exchange between these devices but also between machines and people. Protocols such as OPC UA (especially OPC UA FX: from the sensor to the cloud) will be used to connect field devices with applications running in a cloud environment. Wi-Fi represents one important option to implement this. Wi-Fi is typically deployed in combination with other technologies such as Ethernet to implement the end-to-end connectivity needed. This link enables a more efficient production process based on visibility and enhanced decision making including the enablement of mass customization. In this context, Wi-Fi is especially important to allow more dynamic factory scenarios where cable-based connections are difficult to adapt.
Sensors Will Play Critical Part In Industry 4.0 Revolution
With the aim to data-enable all key equipment in the manufacturing process, a typical site may require 20,000 sensors at high-density. Sensors will be connected to the network in a variety of ways including hardwired standalone units, Wi-Fi standalone units, groups of sensors connected to a central control unit which is then presented to the network via hardwire or Wi-Fi, 5G connected sensors.
The massive amounts of data collected by all the methods listed above will end up in a central repository such as an edge or cloud compute platform where the analytics and machine learning (ML) value of the system will be realised. Many systems will access the data to provide various views depending on the required application. For maintenance applications, the data can be used to predict machine performance degradation or failure enabling them to act before either situation is realised.
Proactive maintenance results in consistent product quality and predictable machine uptime. This same predictive analysis data can be then relayed back operations staff via tablets and laptops via the Wi-Fi network. While latency is not critical for this application, it is important that all devices receiving the data receive the same readings at the same time. Inconsistent timings could lead to two engineers having different views of the same machine states. Wi-Fi will be key in delivering machine health information to operators and maintenance staff.
Real Time Digital Twin
Video Fusion is the basis of the real-time digital twin concept. The digital twin provides a means to control and steer processes of the physical plant while simultaneously providing a safe environment to gather data. This can be used model and test and prove process changes and improvements prior to undertaking process re-engineering. It also enables new business models by enabling clients to engage
and experience the production processes. This capability can enable a range of use-cases that benefit the AMR system such as: blind-spot removal, collision avoidance, Cobot collaboration, asset/people identification & tracking, real time 3D mapping, safety alerts.
The full Wireless Broadband Alliance whitepaper can be downloaded here. ‘Wi-Fi 6/6E for Industrial IoT: Enabling Wi-Fi Determinism in an IoT World’,
For more information: https://wballiance.com/