PARTNER CONTENT: With merely one board added, a common 5G base station can function as a 5G private network, enabling the robots in the smart factory, a variety of applications such as intelligent storage, data collection, and intelligent cockpits to operate smoothly. Recently, China Central Television (CCTV) went to Ningbo Fenghua and visited HOTEL STAR, an intelligent carton factory to experience the charm of the intelligent manufacture empowered by base stations integrating cloud, network and industry.

Relying on the NodeEngine solution, a base station solution integrating cloud, network and industry provided by ZTE, China Mobile Research Institute, Zhejiang Mobile, and HOTEL STAR (Ningbo) built the first intelligent carton manufacturing factory nationwide, refreshing the “acceleration” empowered by 5G. Its agile and efficient capability to achieve private network coverage will accelerate the digital transformation and upgrade of thousands of industries.

One-hour commissioning

Simplified 5G private network to assist smart factories handling the bottleneck

HOTEL STAR (Ningbo), an enterprise specializing in the production of medium-and-high-grade corrugated cartons, is one of the top 100 packaging enterprises in China.

To improve the manufacturing efficiency, the digital transformation of the production workshops of HOTEL STAR has already started. However, in the “wired + WiFi” network through which the printers, conveying lines and MES terminals in the workshop are connected, goods transfer in the warehouse, temporary transfer of materials and data uploading of the production line equipment still require manual operation. The loss of production data caused by manual operation errors and high network delay affects the progress of the orders.

Facing the trend of digital transformation and the demand for production efficiency improvement, carton manufacturers are having higher expectations for the intelligent manufacturing empowered by 5G. Now, a “simplified 5G private network” built by NodeEngine has broken the bottleneck of HOTEL STAR’s digital transformation.

“Industries differ, demands vary widely. For example, some services of smart factories require that the network delay should be less than 4 ms, and meanwhile differentiated processing is also required in terms of security isolation level and service quality guarantee. As a carrier of the simplified 5G private network, the base station integrating cloud, network and industry has four advantages: Controllable cost, agile deployment, integrated service, and rich capabilities. It is a one-stop comprehensive solution integrating the network, cloud, intelligence, and industry.” Introduced by Zhejiang Mobile.

Since the network architecture and configuration are simplified, the base station integrating cloud, network and industry can implement rapid commissioning with one board and one optical fiber within one hour. The delivery period of private networks is shortened from several months to several days, better meeting the production requirements of factories.

In addition to 5G private network itself, MEC and related supporting facilities deployment are always required in 5G smart factories. But in traditional solution,it usually takes about two months to deliver the overall private network. Currently, the base station solution integrating cloud, network and industry is used. Since the network architecture and configuration of NodeEngine are simplified, engineers only need to add a computing power board to the existing 5G base station. With the simple deployment of one board and one pair of optical fibers, the rapid delivery of the 5G private network can be achieved within one to several hours, saving 90% of the deployment time. The network delay is improved by 50% compared with the traditional solution. In addition, value-added services are created through the opening and packaging of wireless features such as location information, network SLA information, and etc. Moreover, the integrated deployment of private networks, cloud computing power, and enterprise applications in 5G parks provides factories with integrated private network services with lower costs, faster deployment, and more capabilities, effectively improving the management and production efficiency of HOTEL STAR.

Services integrating cloud, network and industry, improving the quality and efficiency

Based on the new and simplified 5G private network with base stations integrating the cloud, network and industry, Zhejiang Mobile provided the carton production factory with integrated service of “high-quality connection + rich capabilities + featured services”. Together with HOTEL STAR, Zhejiang Mobile built seven 5G application scenarios, including AGV, data acquisition, intelligent storage, PDA, electronic fence, transfer vehicles, and real-time production data monitoring.

“Besides the 5G private network services for smart factories, integrated deployment of UPF functions, MEP platforms, and strictly selected industrial applications is implemented as well. Through the opening and packaging of wireless features such as location information, network SLA information, and etc., value-added services can be provided to achieve integrated deployment of private networks, cloud computing power, and enterprise applications in 5G parks.” Said Ningbo Mobile.

We can see that the full coverage of the 5G network allows AGV and other intelligent terminals to achieve seamless roaming within the factory. Thanks to the high speed of the 5G network, the work orders of the ERP and WMS systems are delivered to the transfer vehicle in real time for material warehousing and storage, thus improving the efficiency of material transfer. The “5G network + edge computing” enables the ERP, WMS and Navigation systems to interact with the trucks and material trays in real time, precisely managing over 3000 storage racks. The “5G network + the computing board” implements integrated deployment of UPF functions and the MEP platform, making the end-to-end delay less than 10 ms, and achieving local distribution of 5G data.

“We have built an all-5G smart storage system, collecting the data of material warehousing, the storage locations and etc. in real-time throughout the whole process from materials stocking to finished products delivery. We demonstrate the data through HOTEL STAR’s digital platform. In addition, we achieve seamless roaming access of multiple terminals, effectively improving the logistics intelligence.” Introduced by Ningbo Branch of Zhejiang Mobile.

In addition, the advantages of low latency and large capacity of 5G networks can also be effectively embedded into the factory security system. At present, a high-altitude monitoring camera has been set up at the top of HOTEL STAR’s warehouse. The high-speed real-time transmission of video monitoring images is implemented through the 5G network to monitor the overall situation of the factory. The system alarms, response rates, and security assurance are effectively improved through monitoring cameras and advanced electronic fence, so that it’s manageable and controllable when personnel cross over the key areas.

Focusing on the digital and intelligent transformation, the NodeEngine solution,  a base station solution integrating the cloud, network and industry assists the construction of HOTEL STAR’s intelligent carton factory, improving the product quality by 10%, the storage efficiency by 15% and saving the human resource investment by 15%. Consequently, it helps to achieve the improvement of both product quality and operation & management efficiency.