Private indoor 5G network established at manufacturing facility

Wireless provider Betacom provided MxD's Chicago headquarters and Factory Floor Lab with a private 5G network.

By Chris Vavra May 27, 2022
Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

Wireless provider Betacom provided MxD’s Chicago headquarters and Factory Floor Lab with a private 5G network. The network, one of the US’s first indoor private 5G deployments, will serve as the foundation to develop and enable technologies that power Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is a tech-powered revolution with the capacity to bring manufacturing back to the United States. The automation which sits at the core of the movement can concentrate supply lines closer to customers, reduce the need for manual labor in manufacturing, drive new business models and refine traditional business models to deliver next level goods and services. The high speed and low latency of private 5G networks, combined with strong security protocols, enable Internet of Things (IoT) deployments that drive manufacturing, warehousing and other environments to stronger productivity gains and optimal efficiency.

“Cutting-edge communication capabilities introduce the ability to get data in near real-time to make faster, better-informed decisions in manufacturing facilities across the United States,” said Chandra Brown, CEO of MxD in a press release.

At a press event at MxD in Chicago, Tony Del Sesto, technical fellow for MxD, said about the benefits of the network, “We are a not-for-profit public-private partnership looking to improve the competitive manufacturing landscape in the United States. Demystify the technical jargon and mystery behind Industry 4.0.”

Tony Del Sesto, technical fellow for MxD, discusses the benefits of 5G industrial networking and what it will do for manufacturers. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

Tony Del Sesto, technical fellow for MxD, discusses the benefits of 5G industrial networking and what it will do for manufacturers. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

The MxD network is being deployed by Betacom in combination with its partners Airspan Networks Inc., a subsidiary of Airspan Networks Holdings Inc. (NYSE American: MIMO), which is providing the new 5G radio access network, and Druid Software, which provides the 5G core software. Network design and deployment is conducted by Betacom, with network management delivered via its modern cloud-based Security and Service Operations Center (SSOC) built on zero trust security design principles.

Airspan’s end-to-end open radio access network (RAN) solution and its 5G Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) small cells were certified by the Federal Communications Commission. Airspan’s small cell radios and software support several virtualization options, based on standards from 3GPP, the O-RAN Alliance and the Small Cell Forum, together with an all-in-one architecture option.

“We are extremely pleased to have joined MxD and look forward to collaborating closely with our partners, who include the most innovative manufacturing technology companies in the world today,” said Betacom CEO Johan Bjorklund. “The opportunity that this collection of organizations has to truly redefine the nature and the direction of manufacturing globally, and to return manufacturing to the U.S., cannot be overstated. We are incredibly proud to be able to supply the high-performance, highly-secure network that will support those efforts.”

While functioning as a test model, Del Sesto elaborated during the event how this can help manufacturer. “There are three things to look at from a business perspective. One is flexibility. Factories are dynamic and you want to be able to move a machine and if I lose signal strength, I can just move an antenna. The next is mission-critical control, which is very attractive because you control what traffic is on what network. And then there’s coverage per unit area. Dollars per square meter. We feel midband systems give the biggest bang for the buck.”

Industry 4.0’s adoption accelerated in large part because of the adoption of the iPhone and the rise of the smartphone in general throughout the 2000’s and 2010’s. Industry 5.0, which is focused on bringing people back to the forefront, will take time. Del Sesto believes the larger manufacturers will lead the charge.

– Chris Vavra, web content manager, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com. Information from Betacom press released was used for writing this article.


Author Bio: Chris Vavra is the web content manager for CFE Media.