A look at use cases for private wireless networks and how NCS and partner Celona implemented the solution at LyondellBasell to Facilitate Cost-Effective and Reliable Connectivity
Private Wireless represents a bespoke LTE/5G network infrastructure meticulously established by enterprises to address their specific wireless requirements. Predominantly in the United States, these private cellular networks leverage the CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) spectrum. Conversely, global deployments often utilize alternative frequency bands such as n77, n78, and n79. A growing number of device manufacturers, including industry leaders like Zebra, Apple, and Samsung, are increasingly introducing devices compatible with Private Wireless that are tailored explicitly for industrial enterprise applications.
Challenges of Connectivity in Industrial and Mission-Critical Environments
Comprehensive coverage and reliable connectivity are essential for effective workflow management in expansive environments like distribution centers, shipyards, and factories, encompassing indoor and outdoor areas. While Wi-Fi is highly effective in conventional indoor office settings, its performance significantly diminishes in these “carpet-less” environments and mission-critical applications, primarily because Wi-Fi technology was not originally designed to cater to such use cases.
On the other hand, public wireless networks present their own set of challenges. Since external carriers manage these networks, enterprises often need help in achieving necessary coverage and the desired Quality of Service (QoS) levels. Moreover, the usage of public wireless networks entails metered data, and the transmission of sensitive information over these networks raises substantial privacy and security concerns as the data traverses through the carrier’s infrastructure.
Expanding Industrial Applications and Devices in the Private Wireless and 5G Ecosystem
Integrating private wireless and 5G ecosystems across sectors, from manufacturing plants to logistics hubs, revolutionizes industries’ operations. This transformation offers unprecedented data exchange, automation, and real-time decision-making. As we delve into these developments, we uncover the diverse range of devices and applications employed to drive innovation and productivity in the industrial landscape, including:
- Industrial use cases for private wireless are broad.
- Smartphones and tablets
- Handheld scanners used in warehouses.
- Laptops and ruggedized PCs
- Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGV) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR)
- IoT sensors
- Connected cameras and image analytics.
- Cellular gateways are for connecting legacy devices that don’t have cellular support, like Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), laptops, tablets, and more.
How does it solve problems for end users?
Private wireless networks offer enhanced coverage, both indoors and outdoors, and maintain stable connectivity for mobile workers, Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs), and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). This superior performance is attributed to higher transmit power, a spectrum free from interference, and improved noise-handling capabilities. Furthermore, private wireless enables organizations to manage connectivity for mission-critical applications effectively, as it allows for centralized planning and management of bandwidth and latency, in contrast to the contention-based mechanism inherent in Wi-Fi systems.
Additionally, private cellular technologies empower organizations to strategically deploy wireless networks in required locations strategically, often needing only 20-30% of the number of access points that Wi-Fi would require for comparable coverage. This reduced need for access points translates into lower installation and maintenance costs, ultimately leading to a more favorable Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Market Segment Use Cases
Let’s delve into how various industries can significantly benefit from the implementation of 5G private wireless networks, examining specific use cases that showcase the transformative potential of this technology.
Oil and Gas refineries
Celona, a leader in enterprise private wireless, reported that a customer had significantly reduced their refinery turnaround time. By deploying private wireless and leveraging reliable connectivity, they shortened a 90-day cycle by two weeks, amounting to a 15% reduction. Here are some examples of this achievement.
Thanks to widespread connectivity across the property, technicians have transitioned away from paper and pen for data gathering. This enhancement lets them video conference with off-site experts for quick problem identification and resolution. Additionally, remote IoT sensors can be reliably connected throughout the refinery using private cellular networks, a crucial element for AI and automation projects. Security cameras have also been upgraded to wireless systems, eliminating the need for extensive cabling, especially in remote areas. Moreover, with this reliable connectivity, robotics can be deployed in hard-to-reach and hazardous environments, further optimizing operational efficiency.
Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing manufacturing in diverse sectors such as automotive, petrochemical, farming equipment, and semiconductors. Across these industries, manufacturers actively seek innovative technologies to enhance productivity through automation. They aim to gain better visibility to optimize inventory and supply chain management, meeting customer timelines efficiently. Additionally, these advancements are crucial in addressing labor shortages by boosting employee productivity and engagement.
Reliable wireless connectivity enables manufacturers to untether their factory equipment, supporting reconfigurable assembly lines that allow agility and scaling. In addition, they can support Connected worker initiatives and Autonomous equipment as described above.
Reference: Case study
Distribution Centers and Warehouses
In distribution centers and warehouses, reliable connectivity provided by private wireless networks is essential for enabling Connected Worker initiatives. These initiatives include dispatching work orders and tracking material movement within the warehouse. Furthermore, forklifts and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) depend on this reliable connectivity to receive work orders and navigate effectively. Additionally, wireless-connected cameras play a crucial role in surveillance and security monitoring in these environments.
Case Study: How NCS Enabled LyondellBasell to Meet Their Objective of Cost-Effective, Reliable Connectivity
A large chemical manufacturer LyondellBassel installed a Private 5G network from Celona to improve operational efficiencies and enhance safety at their manufacturing plant. NCS served as the installation partner in this project.
To facilitate the Celona 5G setup, NCS provided a comprehensive installation service, including conventional fiber, CommScope Powered Fiber, Gamechanger Cat 6, and CommScope Cat 6, along with the necessary conduits. The Celona 5G Access Points (APs) are powered by a 48VDC supply, using a 2-conductor #14 AWG cable. The power supply units, housed in the Intermediate Distribution Frame (IDF) or the designated room with the Lyondell IT switch, connect to the existing 120VAC power outlets in the building. These units convert the power to 48VDC, then transmit it through the 2-conductor #14 AWG cable to power the APs.
Together, Let’s Pave the Way for Modernization
Private wireless represents a transformative shift in industrial automation. By providing reliable connectivity, NCS and Celona enable enterprises to connect areas in their facilities that were previously unconnected. This advancement accelerates digital transformation initiatives, encompassing connected worker programs, autonomous robotics, and streamlined data gathering and analytics through IoT and AI technologies.
If you’d like to learn more on how NCS and Celona can help your organization achieve these results, contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment with our team.