Since the commercial use of 5G, 5G industrial applications are generally applied to a single campus. However, many large enterprises usually have more than one campuses across regions. Coordinating these cross-region campuses and efficiently completing digitization upgrade have become the top priority for these enterprises.
In 2021, China Unicom launched the 5G Full-Connection Factory Collaboration project based on One Telco Cloud for 5G PNI-NPN to carry out in-depth innovation in the industrial manufacturing field with vertical partners. As part of this project, China Unicom, Ferrotec, and Huawei jointly built the industry's first 5G+MEC NPN that covers multiple campuses locating in different regions, connecting cross-region campuses to a unified O&M platform, enabling agile service deployment on edge MEC nodes.
Ferrotec (China) is an internationally renowned supplier of semiconductor products and solutions. It has a total of 30 campuses in China. Among them, six campuses are scattered in Hangzhou, Quzhou, and Dongtai, spaning two provinces Zhejiang and Jiangsu. These campuses need to be interconnected to work together, the networks need to be managed in a unified manner, and customer self-service and cross-region service replication need to be enabled.
By considering the challenges faced by Ferrotec, China Unicom and Huawei built MEC resource pools for campuses in different locations and established an O&M platform to schedule and manage these edge MEC nodes in a unified manner. In this way, services in one campus can be promptly replicated by other campuses. In this project, the two campuses in Binjiang, Hangzhou share the same MEC node, and dedicated MEC resource pools are deployed for the other campuses. Service data (such as OT data collector traffic and dashboard access traffic) is locally processed on the MEC nodes. In addition, a 5G wireless network with adequate signal coverage is deployed to connect terminals. The network then can deliver both connectivity and computing capabilities to the terminals in a shortest route, thereby greatly shortening the latency from data collection, transmission, processing, to result feedback.
Besides, to ensure data security and completely isolate the traffic of industrial data collectors from that of other enterprise users, this project uses technologies such as 5QI and FlexE to slice the radio and transport network to physically separate different OT and IT service flows at the timeslot level. The cross-region 5G+MEC private network delivers low-latency and high-bandwidth wireless connections. This frees terminals from wired connections and solves problems such as difficult network deployment, O&M, and upgrade in industrial production, making flexible production possible. Moreover, the edge MEC nodes can leverage computing power and intelligence technologies to process data locally and in real time, which promotes the implementation of various industrial applications, such as digital workshop, AR-assisted maintenance, and unified AGV scheduling, greatly improving production efficiency and quality.
One Telco Cloud for 5G PNI-NPN and China Unicom's O&M platform enabled fast rollout of campus services and connect 1,200 processing lathes and 300 industrial dashboards to the 5G network. The duration of MEC nodes deployment is shortened from 2 weeks to 1.5 hours, and the time spent on the integration of machine data collectors and control applications on MEC is shortened from 2 weeks to 1 day.
The 5G Full-Connection Factory Collaboration project based on One Telco Cloud for 5G PNI-NPN provides an ideal solution to cross-region campus interconnection and collaboration. It enables fast service replication and unified network management, promoting the use of 5G in cross-region campuses and accelerating digital transformation of enterprises.
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