What Does the Qualcomm and Bosch Collaboration on Industry 4.0 Using 5G with TSN Mean for 5G IIoT?

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By Dan Shey | 4Q 2022 | IN-6667

Recently, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Bosch Rexroth AG collaborated by demonstrating time-synchronized control of an industrial robot and remote positioning of an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) over a live 5G private network. This demonstration was a great example of using the Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) feature of 5G with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) in industrial use cases and flexible manufacturing.

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5G TSN Capabilities in Mission-Critical Industrial Applications


Because of its low-latency requirement, Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) uses the wired network capability. But because of 5G’s Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) feature, there is a possibility that TSN can work with 5G. Qualcomm did a trial in cooperation with Bosch on mission-critical industrial automation by demonstrating time-synchronized control of an industrial robot, and remote positioning of an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) over a live, ultra-reliable 5G private network. The robots were equipped with Qualcomm’s 5G devices through ethernet connectivity. The 5G device used a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card in a prototype system. The time synchronization achieved was below 1 microsecond with zero packet errors. The mean of the errors for the positioning use case of AGV was around 28.1 Centimeters (cm) and had a range from 10 cm to 56 cm.

Connectivity and Positioning Problem Can Be Solved Using 5G Technology with TSN


The previous generations of cellular technology were consumer focused and 5G with its low latency and higher throughput is addressing the enterprise applications more than consumer applications with its capabilities in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). TSN is one of the important technologies that enables 5G to address industrial automation use cases. TSN is the ethernet standard introduced by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It lists a set of requirements for a network to obey so that the automation can run with that. 5G allows microsecond-level or sub-microsecond-level synchronization. The support for TSN across 5G is part of the traditional Release 16 and further enhanced in Release 17. TSN standardization is already finalized, and expected to be deployed in 2023. Another important aspect of 5G is high reliability and low latency, which is important in time-critical industrial applications. For example, in industrial automation, package delivery is important in a timely manner. Other use cases where URLLC is useful are remote medicine, public safety, aviation, autonomous vehicles, and robotics.

5G precise positioning is the non-communication type of technology introduced in Release 16 and further enhanced in Release 17 that allows User Equipment (UE) to be tracked within the system. This enables precise indoor positioning, which is not normally provided by a Global Positioning System (GPS) outdoors. UE can be tracked and the position calculated down to centimeter level. This allows for many use cases like tracking personnel in a medical emergency inside the building, tracking the assets, etc. One of the benefits of 5G positioning compared to Ultra-Wideband (UWB) positioning is that it allows enterprises and factories to have a single network and do both communication and positioning through the same network. Compared to Wi-Fi, 5G has higher positioning accuracy. With Wi-Fi being unlicensed, the interference cannot be controlled as with a 5G private network.

5G as an industrial automation tool will have largest impact on industrial automation. Because of this demo, different 5G capabilities are seen, such as TSN at microsecond-level accuracy, precise positioning capability that guides the AGV, and ultra-low latency that is an essential feature in industrial automation. 5G alone can help provide different functions. Rather than using multiple networks for different functions, one single 5G network can serve the purpose of all industrial automation activities.

In Germany, more than 100 Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have deployed private networks with the help of network operators. These private networks are benefiting the industrial sector in various advanced manufacturing applications. 5G private networks are also being built in hospitals, universities, and airports to explore different 5G use cases.

5G TSN: Deployment Will Address the Gap


The IIoT is the most promising area for adopting 5G and TSN together for high-reliability and low-latency applications. Today, smart factories are not just about assembly lines, but industrial robots and AGVs need remote and real-time control. Integrating 5G with TSN can provide benefits to time-sensitive industrial tasks with increased flexibility and reliability. Moreover, 5G TSN can replace optical fiber, reducing infrastructure costs. TSN needs wireless networks for low latency and high reliability to provide time-synchronized applications, which current cellular and some Wi-Fi networks are lacking. A millisecond of delay in industrial use cases without time synchronization can cause damage to products and machines. ABI Research forecasts that the availability and commercialization of TSN and URLLC products will start happening sometime in 2023, and recommends that more trials of 5G TSN should take place in order to find the gaps in standardizing 5G TSN.


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