Robotics & Automation News

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Huawei and Festo link up for smart manufacturing and robotics as a service based on 5G slicing

Huawei has partnered with Festo to jointly explore the 5G network application of manufacturing and to promote the digital transformation of the manufacturing industry with 5G slicing technology.

5G slicing refers to the practice of segmenting a portion of the 5G network for a specific client or requirement – it’s like what cloud computing is to the internet.

The agreement between Huawei and Festo is based on 5G cloud robotics to test the “robot as a service” concept, or RaaS, which is part of the manufacturing digital transformation that supports the shift from mass production to mass customizing and offers value-based services in smart factories. 

According to this concept, computation is moved from the robot to the fabrication cloud. Due to the strong requirements of the low latency control loop, 5G radio technology must be used to link both cloud and robot.

The 5G cloud robot project is based on a moving robot platform that consists of a handling apparatus – robot arm – with six degrees of freedom. The 5G-based link utilizes 5G slicing network principles.

An uRLLC (ultra reliable and low latency communications) slice is used to fulfill the strong real-time and high reliability requirements of the closed control loop.

Trajectories and control messages are calculated in the fabrication cloud, which supports low-latency service and ensures the scalability of the computing power and energy savings on the robot platform.

5G-based RaaS in combination with factory clouds decouples the capability of industrial robots from the very fast changing computing requirements.

5G slicing technology can guarantee service service level agreements to meet diversified business requirements, which can also enable dynamic engineering solutions on demand tailored with QoS according to dynamically assigned safety levels.

Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei’s 5G network product line, says: “Mobile communications networks are developing and evolving rapidly, and will gradually penetrate a variety of vertical industries.

“5G will meet the diversified network needs of industry, enabling more vertical industry applications with end-to-end slicing solutions.

“Huawei, as a leading provider of wireless network solutions, will work with vertical industries to explore new 5G applications and create greater value. Our co-operation with Festo will promote development of an intelligent manufacturing industry.”

Dirk Pensky, the head of Festo’s software engineering department, says: “In the factory of the future, everyone and everything will stay connected to rely on manufacturing services provided in industrial clouds.

“On the one hand, some of those services need high bandwidth to transfer information to and/or from the cloud, for example image processing and augmented reality and virtual reality services. On the other hand, industrial control services require low to ultra-low latency and highest reliability.

“Festo is involved in different activities to shape the future of our factories. 5G will become the communication technology for smart manufacturing and we aim to prove that with this cooperation.”