Press Release

Connected industry: research will analyze impacts of 5G on the factory floor

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

This is a machine translation of Embrapii's press release

An alliance between Embrapii (Brazilian Company for Research and Industrial Innovation), three large companies in the telecommunications sector, two startups and three Brazilian research centers seeks answers for the large-scale application of 5G on the factory floor. Companies and academics will work on the development of software, hardware and connectivity components to build a platform on which industrial applications will be validated.

Called 5G Connectivity and EDGE Computing for Digital Transformation in Industry 4.0 (EDGE5G), the project will be developed in the Basic Funding Alliance (BFA) model, one of Embrapii's tools for promoting experimental research. The contract was signed on January 18th and the works will be carried out until January 2026, with an expected investment of BRL 9 million from Embrapii and BRL 900 thousand from the partners that make up the alliance.

“New technologies make the production process more efficient. With this project, we advance our understanding of the impact of 5G connectivity integrated with advanced technologies. The results will serve not only the industry, but people's lives in general”, highlights Igor Nazareth, interim president of Embrapii.

Tested Applications

The research will create applications supported by 5G, which will be tested in a real private network, as an Industry 4.0 demonstration testbed . The project results encompass developments in the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, augmented reality and data security aimed at bringing productivity gains to the industry, in several applications.

Among them, we highlight the real-time tracking of a product or logistics robot (AGV, AMR, etc) with high precision (in a matter of centimeters) inside a warehouse, to the creation of alerts or policies to block IoT terminals , in order to avoid the possibility of compromising an industrial plant in the sights of cyber attacks.

The research will be developed in an alliance between CPQD (Center for Research and Development in Telecommunications), Embrapii Unit for advanced communications; the IFPB Innovation Center (Federal Institute of Paraíba), Embrapii Unit accredited in the area of manufacturing systems; and Inatel (National Telecommunications Institute), Embrapii Digital Communications Unit. Among those involved are companies from the information technology sector, Cisco, Prysmian and MPT Condutores, in addition to startups Taggen and Data Machina.

“5G brings a series of opportunities to the industry, but still lacks answers regarding its applicability. This project brings together skills from three Embrapii Units to seek answers, unite different technologies and test a safe and accessible solution, especially for small and medium-sized companies. The challenge is to have, in the near future, a national industrial IoT platform enabled by 5G", says Gustavo Correa, project coordinator and manager of Connectivity Solutions at CPQD, Embrapii Unit.

Impact on productivity

The project aims to enhance industrial connectivity with real-time application, sensing and industrial data collection, based on the integration of communication technologies, including 5G and edge computing, among others. The expectation is that future discoveries can be applied in several areas that involve intensive production with automated equipment, such as the aviation, cosmetics and agriculture industries.

In addition, the creation of the platform and related applications will increase knowledge about Industry 4.0 technologies and validation mechanisms, improve the efficiency and safety results of industrial processes and even ensure more productivity with cost, inventory and accident reductions in the companies.

Another important impact will be the improvement of human collaboration with physical equipment in the industry, through the application of augmented reality, enhancing the emergence of immersive applications and IoT in the industry. The convergence of disruptive technologies should favor the management of the industrial process.

“This research is more than 5G, as it will adopt a network based on the Open RAN paradigm, a very new technology. When this project proposes to build a testbed using open and interoperable platforms, we are taking the first step towards understanding the level of maturity of these technologies. It is important to propose lines of technological development like the one in this research and, from there, present the application of these connectivity infrastructures for advanced technologies of Industry 4.0”, adds Rodrigo Uchoa, director for Digitization and Innovation at Cisco Brazil.

Basic Funding Alliance

The development project for the new platform will be financed through the Basic Funding Alliance (BFA). The instrument for promoting research and industrial innovation, applied in an unprecedented way by Embrapii, provides non-refundable resources for co-financing up to 90% of projects developed by consortia involving at least two Embrapii Units, two companies and a startup.

“The Basic Funding Alliance encompasses a category of innovative solution projects with a lower level of technological maturity, closer to basic research, where there is great risk for companies. Embrapii fills a gap in technology development, sharing costs and risks with the business sector, in addition to stimulating national research”, explains Igor Nazareth.

BFA aims to contribute to the development of disruptive, knowledge-intensive and higher-risk technologies, encouraging the participation of research institutions and Brazilian companies in the production of technologies based on AI and digital transformation at the frontier of knowledge.

About Embrapii

Embrapii is a social organization that operates in cooperation with research institutions, public or private, to serve the business sector, with the aim of fostering innovation in the industry. To this end, it connects research and companies, and divides risks, by contributing non-refundable resources to projects that lead to the introduction of new products and processes in the market. To have access to the model, the company must present its technological challenge to the Unit with the technical competence that fits the needs of its project. Embrapii has a management contract with the Federal Government, through the Ministries of Science, Technology and Innovation, Education, Health and Development, Industry, Commerce and Services.

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