5G smart factories get additional support as a host of new IIoT capabilities emerge

As part of Qualcomm’s efforts to further support industry IoT applications, the company provided live over-the-air demonstrations of upcoming 5G industrial IoT capabilities such as Time Sensitive Networking (TSN), enhanced ultra-reliable low-latency communication (eURLLC) and precise indoor positioning.

TSN support delivers precise time synchronization between 5G-connected devices, and in a recent blog post, John Smee, VP of engineering at Qualcomm, wrote that when used in conjunction with enhanced ultra-reliable low-latency communication (eURLLC), can “deliver up to 99.9999% reliability with low and deterministic latency.”

Using “a full-fledged, over-the-air 5G [test]network” and “a little [industrial]production line” set up in one of the company’s San Diego warehouses, Qualcomm is putting TSN and eURLLC to the test. In the below video, the company’s Yongbin Wei, VP of engineering, demonstrates how these technologies present “a huge opportunity for the next industry revolution.”

“Because everything is fully time synchronized,” Wei said, “all of the objects are recognized, and no actions are missed.”

“When TSN is turned on,” he continued, “the timing offset [between industrial components]is in the micro-second level. It is precisely synchronized. If you turn off the TSN […] you start to see that we’re missing more and more objects as a result. And with the time synchronization off, unlike before when we were in micro-second level, now [without TSN], it is much, much higher, in millisecond level, which is way beyond the requirements.”

Additionally, Wei pointed out, industry and manufacturing environments often have numerous metal structures and barriers, which may pose a challenge for traditional network layouts in the form of blocking the radio link paths.

However, when multiple transmit/reception points (TRPs) are deployed, a machine operating within a facility is able to work uninterrupted even in adverse signal conditions and dynamic environments. This is because TRPs communicate with the machine from multiple directions, even when one path gets blocked, there are radio signals coming in from other directions, creating a signal redundancy, and preventing loss of connection.

Due to the high demand of improved accuracy of locating device position, 5G added positioning support in Rel-16 in the form of round-trip time (RTT), angle of arrival/departure (AoA/AoD), and time difference of arrival (TDOA).

Now, Rel-17 will further enhance positioning latency, capacity, and accuracy down to cm-level, which Lorenzo Casaccia, vice president of Technical Standards, Qualcomm Europe, stated in a blog post will prove to be particularly important for industrial IoT use cases.

“The benefit of cellular-based positioning, which complements existing GNSS [Global Navigation Satellite System], is that it works well for both outdoor and indoor locations,” he wrote.

Xiaoxia Zhang, Qualcomm engineer, principal/manager, revealed the importance of precise positioning for industrial operations like asset tracking and AGV control in the below demonstration.

Each of the five TRPs in the test network is sending a position signal that spans 400 MHz wide in unlicensed 6 GHz spectrum band, Zhang explained. The test device is moved around by a 3-axis gantry system that also provides the ground truth to which the device’s positioning estimates will be compared.

When explaining the results from one of the test runs in terms comparing the estimated positions and the ground truth, Zhang summarized, “We can see that there are no errors beyond 23 centimeters [9 inches].”

Discussing these new capabilities, Wei concluded that they are “going to open a huge opportunity for the next industry revolution in term of flexible manufacturing and productivity increase.”

For more information on how Qualcomm is fostering innovation, visit the 5G Resource Center. For the latest in technology demonstrations, check out the following:

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