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Are You Ready for Industry 4.0?

An industrial revolution is taking shape around the globe. Known as “Industry 4.0” in Germany, “Re-industrialization” in the United States, and “Industrial Intelligence” in Japan, this revolution is redefining manufacturing by applying smart Information and Communications Technology (ICT), such as the Internet of Things (IoT), to energy, logistics, and Internet of Vehicles (IoV) enterprises.

Already, ICT vendors and traditional manufacturing enterprises in core industries are joining forces to showcase new business models, which will attract more enterprises to make alliances. Governments and international organizations are participating as well by promoting standardization and collaboration across countries and industries and by addressing connectivity, IP-based equipment, mobility, data sharing, and security schemes. Simply put, Industry 4.0 and its kin from around the globe are set to change the way we live and see the world.

Enhancing Efficiency and Competitiveness

Although technology — including ICT technologies such as Big Data, cloud computing, and IoT — play an important role in Industry 4.0, the fundamental driver is a strategy for improving the efficiency and competitiveness of enterprises by resolving the fundamental challenges that plague multiple industries.

Given the variety of production environments and techniques, raw materials, and specialized equipment requirements for each industry, however, a one-size-fits-all solution will not be the answer. Consideration must also be given to the specific operating requirements of each production environment.

For example, in steel mills, temperature sensors must accurately measure the condition of steel plates and tooling in hot rolling processes in environment operating with temperatures reaching 2,100-degrees Fahrenheit. Wired communication systems do not work at such a high temperature, making wireless communication technology the only viable solution.

Oil refineries are an example where wireless signals are weakened because of the maze of metal pipes. In such environments, wireless technologies featuring strong diffraction and penetration capabilities, for example Huawei's enterprise Long-Term Evolution (eLTE) technologies, fit the bill perfectly.

To provide the options most relevant to each industry, equipment vendors must improve their understanding of industrial environment requirements and develop the most appropriate technologies and products. Multiple vendors can then combine their unique advantages to create feasible solutions that suit industry characteristics and satisfy specific requirements.

All Industry 4.0 solutions, however, must ensure high resiliency over smart, connected networks. This means that the system must support applications in enterprises of all sizes but can also be quickly and dynamically optimized to respond to changes. Solutions must build on standards-compliant, open architectures in which components can be easily added or removed to meet the exact demands in the production process. Modular processes, for instance, permit facility engineers to assemble and re-provision their production equipment with Lego-like components.

By utilizing embedded systems, networks, cloud data, and secure exchange technologies, Industry 4.0 details future, inter-connected factories to collaborate. The expectation is that manufacturing clusters will enhance competitiveness in the marketplace.

Huawei’s industry-specific solutions, including Smart City, Smart Transportation, Smart Energy, Smart Grid, and Smart Manufacturing, have established solid track records in global markets. By working with partners, Huawei has launched a series of flexible solutions that are designed to be replicated at scale.

Smart Manufacturing, Smart Mechanical Engineering

Smart Factories are a key feature of Industry 4.0. With networked, distributed production facilities, Smart Factories are built to leverage Smart Production systems to manufacture goods more efficiently.

Smart Production, is a cornerstone of the Industry 4.0-Smart Factory concept, and includes the incorporation of advanced logistics management, man-machine interaction, and three-dimensional (3D) visualization technologies into production processes.

The following characteristics will contribute to making Smart Factories and Smart Production a reality:

  • Upgrades to existing machinery with networked sensors.
  • Deployment of hybrid wired and wireless networks that break the barrier between production and office environments.
  • Comprehensive security assurances for networked machinery.
  • Optimum use of the large volumes of data generated by machines and production processes.
  • Deployment of Big Data cloud platforms that offer factory automation and analytics.
  • Optimized production processes for improving product quality, increasing production efficiency, and ensuring production safety.

Huawei’s Smart Factory solutions deliver on all fronts. Designed with multiple networking technologies, the Huawei solutions enable efficient wireless communication at both short and long distances, while providing a hybrid, unified wired and wireless foundation. The hybrid network facilitates efficient data exchange between machines, and between machines and cloud data centers. Huawei provides service-centric, scalable, and integrated manufacturing cloud solutions that help manufacturers to exploit the computing, storage, and Big Data analytics capabilities within the ICT infrastructure.

Mechanical engineering — another strategic component of manufacturing — i s in the process of shifting to a service model by providing engineering design and assistance as a professional service to customers. By 2016, China’s mechanical engineering service market is expected to reach US$ 160 billion. Currently, worldwide, mechanical engineering services account for up to 70% of all revenue from manufacturing in the developed economies of the United States and Western Europe. In the Asia-Pacific region, led by China, mechanical engineering services are achieving 30% of the total manufacturing revenue.

Predictive maintenance is also forming a large part of an industry shift to manufacturing services. The efficiency of outsourcing predictive maintenance is gained by reporting real-time engineering information, including location, running data, and status, to maintenance centers against baseline data sets for fault-modeling and failure analysis.

The key to predictive maintenance is real-time, efficient data collection and network backhaul capacity. In China, though most mechanical engineering machinery is already integrated with GPS positioning functions for simple data collection, an effective predictive maintenance solution requires enhanced real-time data transmission to improve the longevity of manufacturing production equipment.

Huawei brings the expertise to interconnect all relevant networks related to predictive maintenance, including sensors for machinery, telematics for engineering vehicles, wireless carriers, and local area networks for mechanical engineering sites. In addition, Huawei offers a unified IoT management platform that ensures reliable data connections between equipment, sensors, and servers.

Huawei and its partners are dedicated to developing innovative application platforms for mechanical engineering enterprises, helping to accelerate the shift from “production-centric manufacturing” to “service-centric manufacturing.” With contemporary cloud platforms in place, manufacturing enterprises are able to benefit from a variety of services that include performance monitoring, system health audits, fault diagnosis, smart maintenance, training, and production workflow processing.

Energy Production, Efficiency, and HSE Management

Production accidents and hazardous material spills, in the oil and gas industry especially, can cause great bodily injury, property losses, and long-term environmental damage. A best-practices remedy for mitigating the number and size of such accidents are the rules and processes in the use of enterprise-grade management systems such as the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) management solution offered by Huawei. As IoT technologies mature, data acquisition costs for sensors and communications will decline and further encourage the utilization of HSE-related market solutions.

Oil refineries generate large amounts of wastewater and waste gas during production and routinely discharge toxic, flammable, and explosive fumes that endanger lives and reduce production efficiency. To ensure production and pipeline safety, the industry must transition from manual prevention approaches to automated solutions that better mitigate risk.

For example, midsize oil and gas companies are now often constrained to manual measures for assessing the wall thickness of its pipeline sections once each month. For high-risk pipeline sections, more frequent inspections are required, and manual preventive maintenance approaches, by their very nature, are inefficient, error-prone, and labor-intensive. The wide-scale introduction of IoT is organized to make routine pipeline inspections orders of magnitude easier because of improved measurement accuracies, workload reductions, and prevention of safety risks that are easily missed between overly extended measurement cycles.

The detection of hazardous toxic gases is also critical to mitigating risks. With properly calibrated detection equipment in place, personnel can be alerted to the dangers in near-instantaneous time frames, thereby reducing the incidence of equipment failure and bodily harm. The point is to program known issues into system alerts that can be promptly resolved to prevent the escalation of small problems into large-scale environmental disasters.

Huawei’s Smart Factory solutions employ IoT and 4G mobile communication technologies to comprehensively monitor petroleum production and storage facilities. By enhancing the collaboration between operation and production teams, the Huawei solutions deliver a wide range of benefits that include reduced costs, increased efficiency, mobile operations and management, and coordinated responses to dangerous circumstances.

The Smart Factory solutions incorporate three logical layers:

  • The Application Layer handles environmental monitoring, operations management, and collaborative scheduling. This layer includes both IoT-related applications (such as HSE management, waste monitoring, and preventive maintenance) and collaborative scheduling applications that rely on wireless broadband trunking dispatch, video surveillance, and personnel position systems.
  • The Network Layer supports a variety of services while fulfilling real-time security requirements. Huawei offers enterprise-grade, access-controlled 4G network solutions for devices and sensors. Huawei’s innovative LTE-M technology enables energy-efficient Wide Area Network (WAN) coverage that addresses weak coverage issues caused by factors such as pipeline density and other physical structures that generate co-channel interference.
  • The Device and Sensor Layer feeds audio and video data backhaul from remote sensor networks. The Huawei solution also supports WirelessHART, ISA100, and WIPA, each of which has been devised to protect legacy enterprise investments.

IoV: Vehicle Control Networks and Telematics

The Industry 4.0 worldview anticipates a significant impact occurring on people’s lives and works, including both IoV and wearable computing applications. In the case of IoV, many vehicles are now equipped with GPS systems that upload the vehicle position to data centers via a GPRS or 3G networks. In the future, interactions between vehicles, roads, drivers, and sensor devices will become routine, and the sharing of such information, even information about ambient environments, will become commonplace. Information collected from diverse sources, processed, computed, shared, and released using secured information platforms will provide advanced guidance and supervision for vehicles.

Huawei has partnered with government agencies, telecom carriers, and vehicle makers to advance IoV technologies. For instance, in October 2014, Huawei and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, China’s leading vehicle manufacturer, signed a cooperation agreement for vehicle-mounted electronics, IoV applications, and future-proof telematics products and solutions. Huawei and Dongfeng have agreed to a three-stage progression:

  • Phase I: Huawei will develop a series of infotainment systems and services, provide powerful smart interconnection capabilities, and incorporate these offerings into Dongfeng Fengshen AX7 vehicle models. The infotainment system will come with a High-Definition (HD), 9-inch touch screen and connect to smart devices (i.e mobile phones and tablets) via wired and wireless connections.
  • Phase II: Huawei and Donfeng will cooperate in future telematic developments to link vehicles with people, vehicles with vehicles, and vehicles with cloud data centers. The partnership aspires to converge intra- and inter-vehicle networks with the (5G) mobile Internet.
  • Phase III: Huawei and Dongfeng will collaborate to develop smart, autonomous vehicles able to drive themselves.

Huawei German Engineering Center

On October 10, 2014, China and Germany announced the Action Outline for China-Germany Cooperation, issued after a third round of discussions on inter-governmental cooperation. Guided by the Action Outline , the two countries will collaborate in “Industry 4.0,” which is the expected model for future China-Germany industrial cooperation.

In response to the Action Outline, Huawei plans to establish an special engineering center in Munich, Germany to leverage German advantages in talent, technology, and R&D. The new center is intended to improve Huawei’s expertise in assembly manufacturing; silicon photonic manufacturing; automation and smart robotics; testing; and real-time supply chain management. Huawei will continue to work with industry players in both countries to support the Germany’s Digital Agenda 2014-2017 and Industry 4.0 strategies.

By Tian Qiming

Huawei Senior Solution Architect