4th Industrial Revolution: Phoenix Contact & Proximus Creating ‘Ultra-fast’ 5G Network


Phoenix Contact & Proximus Creating ‘Ultra-fast’ 5G Network
Phoenix Contact and Belgian network operator Proximus have successfully tested PROFINET in a 5G wireless network.

This is an important milestone for Industry 4.0, as it opens up the possibility of using PROFINET protocol in automation of industrial enterprises in combination with ultra-fast and highly reliable 5G mobile private networks (MPNs).

5G is the first generation of mobile data technology that enables ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) and thus paves the way for reliable real-time data flows. Together with network segmentation, this enables more precise management of available industrial IT resources to guarantee bandwidth and reliable connectivity. Industrial markets look forward to 5G technology demonstrating its capabilities in specific tests for various use cases.

PROFINET is one of the leading Industrial Ethernet protocols used in automation of industrial enterprises. At the same time, it is also the most complex protocol to use for industrial machine communication, as it requires extremely low latency and the highest degree of reliability. For this reason, PROFINET has so far required cable-based Ethernet connections.

Phoenix Contact (a member of the RAWI) and Proximus linked up to test the PROFINET transmission capability over 5G in a Proximus laboratory environment. In doing so, a stable PROFINET connection was established via a private autonomous 5G network at 3.5 GHz. The 5G private network infrastructure of Proximus and the 5G industrial router developed by Phoenix Contact were used for the tests.

For this promising pilot installation, a controller characterised by absolute flexibility, openness and reliability was purposefully chosen. The PLCnext fully complies with these qualities and has a robust design. This makes it possible to thoroughly test and take full advantage of all the advantages and new possibilities offered by 5G technologies. The presented combination is ideal for a wide range of different applications thanks to its very reliable connectivity both to the cloud and in real-time industrial systems.

The successful use of PROFINET in a 5G wireless network demonstrates the feasibility of the concept in industrial plants and opens up possibilities for a wide range of new usage scenarios, including

Enterprise automation and security systems. Low latency in mobile private networks enables wireless automation and real-time communication between machines. It also opens up the possibility of more flexible use of available electrical equipment in installations, enabling future production requirements to be met while working with these installations.

In logistics, Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are already being used, but their use has certain limitations due to the latency, bandwidth and range of current data transmission technologies. 5G offers a solution to these limitations, while improving overall connectivity. In this way, AGVs can be used flexibly and efficiently over a wider area. Complex applications that require precise positioning and low-latency communication, such as the interaction between production machines, robots and AGVs, are also becoming possible.

Processing industry. 5G offers important possibilities for wireless control and monitoring of installations as part of process automation, which has a much wider reach than automation of industrial enterprises. Process automation requires fast and reliable data transfer between sensors that record temperature, flow rate and pressure information and such, and control sensors of the numerous valves, cooling or heating devices and pumps involved in the process.