Schneider Electric and Orange test 5G in Industry 4.0 for the first time

By combining their respective expertise, Schneider Electric and Orange Business Services have been jointly innovating since the end of 2019 at the Schneider Electric plant in Vaudreuil (Eure), a pilot project recognized as a “lighthouse factory” by the World Economic Forum. Together, they are testing 5G by applying it to industrial uses. Their goal is to build reliable, scalable and sustainable connectivity solutions, suited to future industrial needs. It is a major project, which, through two use cases initiated in 2020, has already demonstrated that 5G represents a competitive lever for industry.

Schneider Electric experiments with 5G

Job sector: Energy management and industrial automation

Type of experiment: Rollout of indoor 5G in a Schneider Electric industrial production setting via experimental frequencies in 2020 then Orange commercial frequencies in 2021

The goal: Increase productivity by improving industrial maintenance activities, in particular through the use of augmented reality

Two use cases:

  • The use of augmented reality by industrial maintenance technicians
  • Remote visits of the factory using a telepresence robot

Industrial benefits:

  • Real-time synchronization of massive amounts of data
  • Accelerated resolution of incidents
  • Reduction of tasks that have no added value
  • Attractive maintenance profession
  • Facilitation of high-quality telepresence
  • Lower carbon impact

5G benefits:

  • Low latency
  • High speed

Exploring the power of 5G within an experimental infrastructure

Over 2,000 square meters of production and office space have been covered with 5G. In practice, AirScale radio equipment and a Nokia core network were used as well as experimental frequencies in 2020 allocated by Arcep.

"This co-innovation allowed us to work with Schneider Electric from the very beginning of the project to identify their real needs in the factory and provide them with the most suitable 5G solutions," explains Damien Lenglet, 5G Co-Innovation Product Manager at Orange Business Services.

Sébastien Dudreuilh, Industry 4.0 Manager at Orange Business Services, continues: "Once the network was set up, we were able to test 5G and its most advanced features in terms of reliability, latency and throughput. This way, we were able to define accurately and based on different use cases, what the real inpact of 5G in the industrial world is."

Two use cases and various benefits for industry, the operational teams and the environment

Use case 1

Improve maintenance operations with a Schneider Electric augmented reality application (EcoStruxureTM Augmented Operator Advisor). The app, installed on 5G smartphones, allows operators to view real-time data and virtual objects superimposed on the image of a cabinet or machine.

Result: Operators who use the application access information about the machine in real time (reference documents associated with the different parts of the scanned machine, video tutorials on maintenance activities deemed to be complex and/or important, etc.). Ultimately, the identification of problems related to the displayed parameters is done more quickly: machine downtime is reduced, maintenance operations are accelerated, and human errors are limited.

Use case 2

Allow remote visits of the site with very high video and audio quality thanks to a 5G mobile telepresence robot.

Objective:

  • Cut down on travel-related time and costs
  • Reduce the carbon footprint
  • Give end users an unparalleled experience

Result: 5G's performance in terms of speed and latency allows for the use of very high-quality video, as well as minimal time lag in the virtual interactions of the remote visitor and the robot on the site.

 

Sébastien Dudreuilh, Industry 4.0 Manager at Orange Business Services, explains: "These two use cases have shown us that 5G:

1. Allows for highly fluid data exchanges between equipment, operators and IT infrastructure and is very easy for the operational teams to use
2. Promotes the development of tools capable of quickly and efficiently performing machine interventions

Compared to the existing Wi-Fi on site, 5G offers superior performance in terms of reliability and stability of response time. 5G, therefore, allows us to ensure a better experience for remote workers; the result is that the adoption of tools is facilitated, and productivity is improved in the long term."

The more machines that are 5G compatible, the more industrial uses we’ll discover



The pilot conducted with Orange at Le Vaudreuil in our Schneider Electric industrial showcase validates many 5G use cases: augmented reality, remote everywhere and real-time access to data. 5G’s reliability, scalability and durability make it a connectivity solution well adapted to Industry 4.0 for greater resilience, competitiveness and sustainability.

 

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric

However, other use cases and other applications are yet to be discovered, particularly related to image analysis and remote machine control, which will be made possible thanks to the development of the 5G ecosystem.

Do you want to experience the benefits of 5G? Visit Orange 5G Lab to learn more.