5G & Profinet: Industrielle Automatisierung
5G & Profinet: Industrielle Automatisierung

Real-time communication & automation with 5G and Profinet for Industry 4.0

For years, Profinet has been an essential component of many automation systems worldwide. However, with the introduction of industrial 5G networks, the industry faced a challenge: How to combine the benefits of modern 5G networks with the established Profinet communication and efficiently manage it centrally across hundreds of decentralized interfaces and devices?

This communication connection and retrofitting of existing machinery is particularly interesting for moving components. In intralogistics, for example, automated guided vehicles (AVGs), remotely controlled cranes, or robots and machines in production can be centrally controlled and automated within an own 5G network. This saves costs and energie consuption, reduces maintenance effort, and increases flexibility in production and dispatching through smooth and secure operation of reliable wireless communication in realtime.

Challenges of Profinet and 5G Networks

Especially in the context of industrial 5G networks, use cases for automation are frequently discussed, requiring the transmission of Profinet communication within the newly implemented 5G networks. Profinet, an established industrial ethernet standard, finds application in manufacturing and process automation and is developed for wired connections.

However, especially for real-time transmissions, Profinets capabilities can be limited due to latency, loss of information (packetloss) or fluctuations. Further, Profinet requires access to the data layer (Layer 2), while 5G allows communication at the network layer (Layer 3). Although layer 2 networking (Ethernet PDU) support in 5G is specified in the 3GPP release 16, chip support and OEM/ODM (Original Equipment Manufacturers /Original Design Manufacturers) integration for the mass market is expected to still take 2-5 more years.

However, solutions already exist, the VXLAN technology successfully enables generally to tunnel Profinet traffic, but industrial applications would require to manage hundreds to thousands of those tunnels. This currently limits the direct and scalable implementation of Profinet technologies in 5G networks.

Scalable automation and remote control via Profinet and 5G by COCUS

We are bridging the gap until layer 2 communication is main stream in 5G private networks and work on stable and scalable Profinet communication in our industrial 5G networks to allow central and decentralized control of massive devices and interfaces.

With VXLAN technology, we translate between the two technologies, enabling transparent and secure transmission of Profinet Layer 2 protocols across network boundaries, including 5G infrastructures (Layer 3), and aim to enable scalable management and control in one central platform. This allows the scalable use of Profinet in industrial 5G networks and the replacement of local controllers and human resources on individual devices.

Implementation at Seehafen Wismar for remote operation of cranes

Together with iSAM AG, specialists in custom process automation, we are implementing an individual solution for efficient remote control of so far cable based cranes based on Profinet in the 5G network deployed by COCUS at Seehafen Wismar. By retrofitting the cranes and integrating them into the 5G network, they will be enabled to be remotely and centrally controlled.

This enables the implementation of more effective and efficient cableless processes, automation of operational tasks and reducing manual re-starts from 3-4h to minutes.

We work on the feasibility and efficiency of Profinet within industrial 5G networks today, providing a solid foundation for future implementations and industrial automation processes in similar industrial environments. We are proud to shape the future of industry 4.0 according to our guiding principle: Connecting industries, empowering innovation.

Connecting Industries – Empowering Innovation

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