Peter Macus: First private 5G campus network in favour of the industrial revolution
CEIT recently announced that in cooperation with the largest Slovak operator Slovak Telekom, it is planning a joint project to build a 5G private campus network on the premises of its R&D Centre in Zilina, Slovakia. We talked about the project as well as the advantages of 5G technology and the campus network directly with the company's Chief Technology Officer, Mr. Peter Macus. He is the initiator and owner of this project in CEIT and oversees its smooth course and use for the needs of the principles of Industry 4.0.
Could you first tell us what 5G technology is and what its benefits are for the industry?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile communication technology and is considered a major advance. It offers users a wider range of frequencies and thanks to the speed and volume of data transmission, it is a prerequisite for their real-time transmission, which serves as the basis for the possibilities of a high degree of automation in the industry. 5G technology in the industry will enable mutual communication and centralized control of machines and mobile production and logistics equipment remotely with immediate response time. Diagnostics with the use of virtual and augmented reality, or remote service will also be more accessible.
Logistics itself is a part of industry and artificial intelligence is finding more and more use here. How do you perceive the use of 5G technology in logistics?
In the field of logistics, the 5G network can provide advanced monitoring of material transfer in real time, optimization of logistics flows, and the possibility of diagnostics and visualization of logistics routes and equipment remotely with the help of virtual reality. Perhaps the most significant use thanks to the implementation of 5G technology will be recorded by the development of the mentioned artificial intelligence in sectors where speed of digitization and lack of data was the main issue. The 5G network supports fast device responses and allows immediate response of AI algorithms. Genuine 5G technology allows the connection of a large number of new devices, which were previously very difficult to connect.
The R&D Centre of your company will soon become the first 5G campus network in Slovakia. What does it mean and how will it work?
Campus networks are local private wireless networks built for individual buildings or entire production plants. They operate independently of the public mobile network and, unlike in the public mobile network, there is a possibility that only selected devices located on campus can be used on this campus network thus increasing the level of security and control. In addition, networks can be easily adapted or combined with public networks.
And as for the operation, as it is a private network, the communication will take place via a private 5G antenna, which will be installed in the R&D Centre of our company. The infrastructure of the 5G CEIT campus will also include a complete local infrastructure, such as servers, network elements and so on. The devices will communicate using 5G modules, which means that each device that we want to connect to the 5G network must have a specific module allowing it to communicate within the campus infrastructure.
Can you share any specific parameters?
Of course, the guaranteed latency, i.e. the speed of response, will be 10ms. Experimentally, our company will test applications at a level of about 4ms, while the typical stable data transfer rate of the CEIT campus will be 200 Mb/s for downlink and 70 Mb/s for uplink for a large number of devices at the same time.
How do you plan to use these advantages in CEIT in favour of the industrial revolution?
First of all, we want to create space for industrial companies to test the possibilities and potential advantages, where they could benefit, if they set up such a private network in their operations. These can be various applications of production, robotics, warehousing, distribution, and the like. The possibilities of use in the field of virtual and augmented reality are also interesting. In all these areas, CEIT has its own products and approaches that will gain wider application possibilities using 5G technology.
Could you be more specific?
CEIT strategically develops 3 basic areas, which are logistics automation, Digital Factory, and the concept of Smart Factory. As part of logistics automation, 5G technology will be applied to intelligent mobile robots, so-called AGVs, which take care of reliable, efficient and secure automatic logistics in industrial halls. They process production data, react flexibly and can even make independent decisions.
What about the concepts of Digital Factory and Smart Factory?
The Digital Factory works with a comprehensive digital image of a real plant, which allows changes to be made and their impact to be seen before they are implemented. Digital Factory tools are most often used in the design of new production systems, in the design and optimization of the layout of production and logistics systems, or in the detailed design of workplaces. The Digital Factory is the basis for advanced manufacturing systems in the sense of Industry 4.0. and it is digitalisation that enables companies to prepare for the revolutionary changes in production that are happening right now with the onset of 5G networks.
On the other hand, the Smart Factory concept works with a comprehensive virtual image of a real factory, where using 5G networks, communications tools and sensor systems can generate huge amounts of data and provide information on the current state of the production system. This enables virtualization of the production environment.
And if I want to be very specific, examples of applications include automatic material transport, localisation, and monitoring of objects (tools, equipment) in real time - RTLS, online monitoring, analysis and navigation of logistics technology, data collection and evaluation to increase productivity, electronic kanban (E-kanban), and such.
As I have already mentioned, CEIT has its own R&D Centre and we plan to use 5G technology to develop activities and carry out specially dedicated research for production applications, which include both production and logistics. It is 5G technology that will allow us to work on research, which we, as an innovative technology company, want to focus on.
To sum up, could you explain the intention of cooperation between your company and the operator Slovak Telekom?
The goal of building a private 5G campus network in our development centre is the fact that thanks to our research and testing other, possibly smaller, companies, which might be considering this technology and want to know in advance the scope of use for their specific purposes, will be able to test the specific features of 5G technology. Our company will make the infrastructure available to such companies free of charge and provide the opportunity to try out 5G technologies without any investment and with our support.