5G-ENCODE, a £9 million pioneering project that aims to make the benefits of 5G a reality for UK manufacturers, has announced the switch on of the second phase of its industrial private 5G network. Following the success of phase one of the network, which launched at the National Composites Centre (NCC) late last year, leading 5G-ENCODE consortium partner Zeetta Networks and partners including Airspan and Druid, have created a new network slice by stitching together slices from one transport network and two separate private 5G networks: one located at NCC HQ and the other at another facility at NCCI located several miles away from the first location.
“For the first time in the world, an industrial 5G network can not only be customised and divided into multiple logical networks, but each of those virtual networks can be extended across a transport network to reach another virtual network in a completely different administrative domain. Zeetta’s technology enables the ‘stitching’ of the individual network slices to create a new network slice through an easy-to-use-graphical user interface. This ‘end-to-end’ slice delivers continuous connectivity for the seamless delivery of applications across different network domains regardless of vendor or technology. This would allow, for example, a critical asset to be tracked continuously in real-time and with the same quality-of-service as it is transported from the point of production, to being received at the destination location,” said Vassilis Seferidis, Founder and CEO, Zeetta Networks.
Commercial benefit of 5G technology
5G-ENCODE aims to prove the commercial benefit of 5G technology to enable three specific industrial use cases: augmented reality and virtual reality to support design, manufacturing and training; monitoring and tracking time sensitive assets; and wireless real-time in-process monitoring and analytics. The first phase of the industrial private network, using 4G, was used to establish a baseline for existing cellular technologies, against which results from the private 5G network can be benchmarked. The results of phase one will be revealed at a phase two launch event at the NCC in November this year.
The success of 5G-ENCODE’s use cases is being credited as the deployment of network slicing and splicing technology developed by Zeetta Networks. All manufacturing environments have multiple tools and machines all requiring different levels of connectivity with varying degrees of latency and throughput. Slicing and splicing technology enables operators to create multiple virtual networks that can be customised according to specific services and traffic levels needed.
Slicing 5G technology
Thanks to the slicing 5G technology, the network can therefore be optimised to meet the needs of different processes to improve efficiency, performance and business output. The technology enables seamless delivery of applications across a number of separate private 5G, 4G or Wi-Fi domains that communicate via a public 5G or other transport networks. Through Zeetta Networks’ multi-domain orchestrator platform, engineers can automate the splicing and dicing of the network resources, to provide users and machines with the exact level of connectivity to optimise performance at any time. Any leftover capacity can be directed elsewhere, making the factory far more efficient and productive.
“In this project for the first time we have shown how a public and open 5G test-bed developed by University of Bristol can be seamlessly connected to a private industrial 5G network enabling next generation industrial 5G use cases and applications such as interactive real time remote training and critical asset tracking. This is achieved with a next generation low latency edge computing platform and a novel 5G brokering mechanism developed by the Smart Internet Lab controlled and orchestrated by Zeetta’s orchestrion planform, said Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol, who are one of 5G-ENCODE’s consortium of leaders.