Aalto University: Factory of the Future deploys indoor 5G and WiFi6 to support manufacturing research

The Aalto Factory of the Future has completed the installation and preliminary testing of indoor 5G standalone and WiFi 6 networks, a local pioneering effort and an important milestone in developing their potential Industry 4.0 applications. Students and researchers will be able to explore these cutting-edge communication technologies which provide more reliable and efficient communication for distributed control systems.

’The combination and coexistence of WiFi6 and 5G have significant potential in the near future, because factories will use more communication services thanks to distributed automation, the Internet of Things, and the Industrial Internet of Things,’ says Doctoral Candidate Ronal Bejarano.

The new technologies offer concrete benefits in the form of reliable interconnection for areas with a high density of wireless clients, as well as optimized spectrum management techniques.

5G and Wifi6 are expected to be complementary technologies that will reduce the intensive use of wiring in industrial facilities without affecting operational reliability indicators. They will make it possible to interconnect more electronic devices, such energy meters, building automation mechanisms, and other devices to contribute to efficient and sustainable industrial manufacturing operations. Together, these tools will help industries make the best of data-centric applications, AI and machine learning.

Researchers at the Factory of the Future worked with Aalto’s IT staff, a local company producing 5G core solutions and Staff-Scientist Jose Costa-Requena at the Department of Communications and Networking to deploy indoor implementations of both technologies for industrial automation use cases.

‘We are creating prototypes for demonstration in operational environments, focusing on industrial automation for manufacturing applications,’ says Bejarano.

The new infrastructure is expected to soon connect the Aalto Factory of the Future with the Industrial Internet Campus and other facilities in Otaniemi to enable joint research projects, and collaborative research is welcome.
‘From now on, new projects and use cases for 5G and WiFi6 can take place at the Aalto Factory of the Future,’ Bejarano says.

Factory engineers of the future will need to decide if cellular, WiFi or a combination is a better fit for their needs and workflow. Professor Valeriy Vyatkin of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation says that ‘enabling wireless communication in industry is an open task for researchers and engineers, and this infrastructure will help demonstrate the technologies and given Finland’s rigorous, professional industrial automation sector confidence in them.’

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