A particularly promising technology – especially on an industrial level – 5G is finally becoming a reality. The Schneider Electric site in Vaudreuil (Eure, France) was the setting for a major first: the Orange rollout of a private, virtualized indoor network meeting industrial requirements. This co-innovation approach ensures convergence between information and operational technologies (IT/OT), which opens up some excellent opportunities.

An experimental indoor 5G rollout

With annual turnover exceeding €25 billion, Schneider Electric is a global leader in the digital transformation of energy and automation management. The Group approached Orange, eager to make its Normandy site a showcase of the factory of the future. The goal: to rollout the first French industrial indoor 5G network as part of a pilot program. The experimental network architecture also allows local data processing using edge computing technology.

Augmented reality and a telepresence robot

Two use cases were tested as part of this experimental rollout. The first involves the use of augmented reality by maintenance technicians. Using 5G smartphones connected to the Schneider augmented reality application Electric EcoStruxureTM Augmented Operator Advisor, technicians can complete maintenance using real-time data linked to virtual objects such as a machine, a production line or the entire factory.

Technicians can simply film a machine to access information on its status and the subsequent maintenance operations – while reporting real-time information to the cloud. As an added bonus, they can reduce machine downtime, speed up maintenance operations and limit the number of human errors.

In the second use case, they can control a telepresence robot using 5G. The robot can be moved around with almost real-time responsiveness, allowing remote visits with high-quality video. This enables unique virtual visits to the Vaudreuil site, with minimal delay in the virtual interactions between the visitor and the Schneider Electric guide accompanying the robot onsite.



Our experiments with Orange at Vaudreuil – a Schneider Electric showcase site – confirm that 5G offers numerous opportunities.

 

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric

Promising new industrial applications

Nearly a year after project implementation, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric, is delighted with the results. “Our experiments with Orange at Vaudreuil – a Schneider Electric showcase site – confirm that 5G offers numerous opportunities: augmented reality, remote management, real-time access to operational data, and so on.”

This is the first step in the collaboration between Orange and Schneider Electric to jointly construct and operate a cutting-edge indoor 5G network in an industrial setting. What’s next? New tests are planned with promising new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and future upgrades of network hardware and software.

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