Industries need fast and secure private networks

Industry 4.0.
Sheila Zabeu -

April 28, 2023

The business climate continues to generate new and unexpected challenges for sectors such as oil and gas, mining, agriculture, chemicals and manufacturing, to name a few. Pandemic shock has challenged them to change faster – and on a larger scale – than ever before. Today’s industries, for example, require fast, reliable and future-proof networks that can support large amounts of data.

In many industrial sites connectivity is challenged by physical scale and geographical location. Industrial sites are often located in remote areas with challenging topography. And the complex layout and use of metals in construction mean that Wi-Fi black spots are impossible to avoid. This prevents industrial companies from harnessing the full power of the cloud.

Gaps in coverage can also be exacerbated by legacy network technologies. Industrial sites are often saddled with networks that were built many years, or even decades, ago. The technologies used are increasingly complicated, especially as they approach the end of their useful life. They also lack the ability to scale on-site and provide predictable connectivity under varying loads, making it difficult to develop the next generation of mission-critical, low latency, high throughput capabilities.

The advent of private wireless networks solves many of these challenges. Powered by the same cellular technology used by public operators (LTE and 5G), these networks have evolved to become economically applicable to individual businesses.

For a private network in the manufacturing sector, 5G can improve the interconnectivity and responsiveness of machines and workers and increase the amount of data available for analysis to optimize systems for high reliability, safety, control, and efficiency compared to previous 4G technology11. The flexibility provided by private networks in a manufacturing facility can improve the productivity and efficiency of people and processes, thus creating new business models.

Private wireless networks therefore enable industrial companies to reliably upgrade and extend their connectivity, while unlocking new digital innovations across the Cloud Continuum. They also offer IT and OT, a new framework for reliable service delivery.

To do this well, companies need to orchestrate an ecosystem that includes telcos, cloud and edge computing platform providers, IoT specialists, device and application vendors, systems integrators, operations outsourcers and strategy and transformation consulting specialists, Accenture says.

Source: Accenture

The key point? Collaboration with the ecosystem helps ensure fast, efficient and successful outcomes, using best-in-class skills to solve complex business problems. Industrial companies can accelerate and reduce the risk of a network transformation journey in IT and OT with the right vision, the right plan and the right partners.

This includes defining the vision, designs, use cases, devices, and spectrum for a private wireless transformation that will add maximum business value. And the clear vision that implementing and integrating a private wireless network is just the beginning. You also need to consider how to operate that network in the most efficient way to maximize business value.

The network workforce must be skilled and/or augmented with external expertise to optimize and harmonize private wireless networks, edge, and cloud operations. And for greater agility, reliability and security, operations must also evolve to artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) model to enable much greater levels of automation.

The power of enhanced private networks lies in enabling new and transformative technologies for industries, helping them to unlock efficiencies and advanced intelligence and strengthen the security of organizations.

Private networks offer:

Greater productivity and efficiency: they can unlock intelligence for businesses through sensory networks. By capturing data in real time, an operational model of a factory enables predictive maintenance, identifying fixes to reduce downtime and help reduce costs. They can also enable organisations to be more energy efficient by optimising operations.

Advanced applications: linking an advanced private network to a cloud-based IT/OT infrastructure allows unlocking various digital applications and services. This includes wide-area mobility for autonomous and remotely controlled operations, from smart manufacturing, drone and autonomous vehicle use, AI, machine vision, edge computing and augmented reality. Use cases include real-time automation and robotics, enhanced monitoring, sensory networks and tracked asset security (and secure asset tracking).

Accelerating the use of the Internet of Things: With the benefits of 5G and WiFi 6 ubiquitous and secure in a private enterprise network, the possibility of deploying a new ecosystem of connected IoT devices is more feasible for your business. IoT technology allows manufacturers to increase the number of sensors installed in equipment, collect more data and measure more variables – vibration, temperature, pressure, humidity and more. This data collection and analysis enables greater monitoring to reduce downtime and minimize the impact of repairs on a plant’s performance.

Safety: the mobility benefits of dedicated private networks mean greater worker safety, especially in challenging or hazardous environments.

What is your business waiting for? Now is the time to take mission-critical OT networking to the next level by making a private wireless solution part of your business strategy.