5G enabled smart production digitization at Hotel Star
Hotel Star, China Mobile and ZTE together win GSMA’s 5G Smart Production Challenge Award, which was an important award recognizing the contribution of the winners to manufacturing industry’s digital modernization.
Deng Wei – Director, Department of Wireless and Device Technology Research, China Mobile Research Institute
Tang Xue – VP of RAN Product Line, ZTE Corporation
Q1: What was the inspiration that started this initiative and in what ways your experience can benefit more industries?
Private 5G has been a very hot topic of the industry but the focus is often about the big enterprises of the verticals. In fact, small and medium-sized enterprises outnumber the big ones and play a critical role in our economy and society, but they may have some specific challenges related to budget, know-how, human resource and engineering. How to find a really sustainable way to help them modernize their core productions and supporting systems with 5G is the key.
Hotel Star project gave us a great opportunity to talk with such an enterprise that has both needs and vision, so that we got to find out what specific challenges they actually have. Cardboard box manufacturing industry is always pursuing further optimized cost structure, but its leading companies such as Hotel Star also start to use cutting-edge technologies including machine vision to streamline the production. How to find the right balance using a fundamental infrastructure technology like 5G is becoming more important.
Then we did thorough review and analysis before a tailor-made deployment and integration proposal was be made. Technology innovations for higher capacity and better integration capabilities in smaller footprint also helped a lot. The success with Hotel Star further strengthens our capability and confidence, and we have been bringing our pilot project’s experiences to more enterprises in both manufacturing and other industries.
Q2: What new innovations and values with respect to private 5G for smart manufacturing could we have further down the road?
Our vision is that new innovations will indeed play a central role in realizing smarter manufacturing with private 5G. The reason is that private 5G is a big and fundamental change to the manufacturing industries, and there are multiple stages. With the continuous enhancement of 5G capabilities, 5G is penetrating faster into vertical industries from the role of auxiliary production to the core production control.
Hotel Star is one of the pioneers in smart manufacturing private 5G, and we believe more enterprise will go along similar path to modernize their production processes using the most advanced cellular network technologies. This of course will in turn brings higher requirements for 5G network technology itself.
The future development of 5G will incorporate ultra-low latency, network industry collaboration and other enhancement technologies to create a unified cloud edge platform, and flexibly support innovating industrial applications such as PLC and HMI to provide a more powerful, more flexible and easier-to-manage 5G private network. More core businesses of enterprises can therefore be free from wires and cables, and unlock more possibilities from improved production with enhanced cost efficiency, so as to create new production value.
Q3: To get such a challenging project materialize, what were the main things that you’ve done and why were they important?
There are three things we believe important to the success of this pilot project.
First and utmost, we carried out a very thorough and comprehensive understanding and review process of the specific challenges, requirements and expectations.
Secondly, we tailor-made a plan for private 5G network planning, deployment, system integration with the production processes, and project management that was thoroughly reviewed and examined to make sure it was in line with the requirements and resource availabilities of Hotel Star for this project.
The last but not the least, the network performance and reliability evaluation and consequent network optimization right after the deployment and initial test running were also very important, so that the network was indeed up to the task. The optimization was not stopped there and was carried out further well into its operation after a few months.
All these key efforts added up to the success of the project implementation, making sure that everything from the core needs, cost, performance, features, stability and easy operation and management were all accepted by all parties.
Q4: Can you please share with us your idea on how to supervise a sustainable ecosystem to succeed for such type of private 5G projects?
As a 5G mobile network operator, we are always committed to nurturing private 5G ecosystems for the vertical industries.
We believe the fundamental thing to do is to really understand the challenges and expectations of the vertical industries, make deep research and also understand the system vendors, integrators and other stakeholders for a complete picture of the ecosystem. From the aspects of technology evolution, private 5G services, and industrial ecology, a sustainable private 5G ecosystem can be constructed.
First of all, in terms of technology evolution, China Mobile will continue improving the technology system of private network through deeply understanding of customer needs, and the acceleration of both standardization and key technology verification, to make sure both sides of the supply and demand can meet each other for a practical and optimal solution to take shape.
The second aspect is private network services. Our rich experience in network deployment, operation and maintenance provides sufficient capability to build a one-stop operation system, achieving automatic and localized operation, as well as SLA quality assurance and visualization. It will thus promote 5G private network from “available to use” to “confident to use” and “easy to use”.
Finally, in terms of industrial ecology, China Mobile will continue working with all partners to create actual benefits through the success of more 5G private network projects, which is crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of the ecosystem and supply chain, and helps bring a brighter and bigger future for both the mobile industry and the vertical industries.
Source：Mobile World Live