Network Redundancy Manufactures Why It Matters

In the late 1960s, the breakthrough of modern computing—embodied by the programmable logic controller (PLC)—changed the face of American society, bringing new levels of automation to everything from home appliances to computer systems. traffic. It also triggered an inflection point in the golden age of manufacturing, producing new reprogrammable ways of working and increasing production in key manufacturing sectors.

Today, manufacturing is experiencing another inflection point. This time, the game-changing technology is high-performance 5G systems which themselves can enable powerful interplay of disruptive and enabling technologies such as distributed cloud and edge computing, massive IoT, AI and technology. automation, among others.




How 5G is reinventing manufacturing

Based on 3GPP standards, 5G is built to a much higher standard than any other connectivity model deployed in the manufacturing value chain. As you read this, manufacturing plans are already being revised and redesigned based on a powerful built-in five-nine security foundation, latency as low as one millisecond, unparalleled positioning technologies, and significantly higher throughput capable of supporting ever more demanding manufacturing. applications such as collaborative robots, digital twins and even holographic remote interaction. This is just the beginning of a long exploratory journey of adopting new technologies in industries where 3GPP’s cellular-based innovation will remain at the forefront of technology.

The potential for impact is transformative, and technologies offer a clear path to realizing new ways of working and significant efficiencies, both of which will be key to enabling manufacturing companies to achieve their sustainability ambitions and reduction of emissions.

The deployment of 5G throughout the manufacturing value chain, including warehousing and the supply chain beyond the shop floor, will go a long way in addressing long-standing operational challenges, including the growing demands of customers for faster delivery and more personalized products, both of which cannot be satisfied by today’s legacy facilities. According to VoxEU, total labor productivity growth has steadily fallen below 1% in the US and Europe since 2005. Reviving and reinventing manufacturing will be key to changing this trend.

What is redundancy in networking and why is it important in manufacturing?

When a network fails, it often results in costly downtime while the problem is resolved. This downtime can be avoided by installing redundant networks. Redundant networks have more than one path for data to travel. If a network link is broken, data can still reach its destination by an alternate path while the broken link is repaired.

In these terms, it may seem simple. However, designing a redundant network can be a very complex process. Every network design requires a different or even unique network topology which can be defined by a variety of factors such as legacy systems, deployment scenarios, risk tolerance, application requirements and many more. With the move towards smart manufacturing, where every step of the process must be digitally connected and accessible at all times, the value of network redundancy becomes acute.

5G systems have been designed to meet even the most demanding network robustness requirements from the outset, and moreover, remove the troubleshooting complexities associated with switch failures quite common in traditional proprietary on-premises computer networks.

As this Ericsson Technology Review article describes, a standalone local 5G private network, typically deployed in a manufacturing plant, uses many of the same robust features and functionality used in a wide area network deployment. In addition, it also allows implementing a redundancy solution where each (industrial) device is equipped with two user equipments which are connected either to a single robust network or to two parallel sets of LAN partitions without cross-points. common failures. And, with this, the complexities are greatly reduced.

Benefits of Network Redundancy

In other words, more redundancy and better distributed site management equals more reliability. And with a network design that ensures one device can automatically pick up where another fails, greatly reduces the likelihood that a failure will interrupt the network and halt plant operations.

Here are the main benefits of providing network redundancy in manufacturing operations:

  • Availability and business continuity: A redundant design ensures that the network is always up and always on. This is especially important for manufacturers that operate in highly competitive industries where downtime can have a drastic effect on margins.
  • Security: Cybersecurity relies on redundancy for maximum efficiency. Redundant networks allow manufacturing companies to implement state-of-the-art security measures and rely on successful compliance audits. Redundant networks are a key indicator of a company’s ability to recover from a cyberattack. If there are more layers to switch to, the impact can be significantly limited.
  • Latency: Having multiple paths to the same locations means applications running on the network will be less likely to struggle with slow speeds due to high traffic volumes.
  • Resilience: Redundant networks provide a foundation to scale plant operations by mitigating the risk of bottlenecks and site outages associated with any increase in traffic.


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Network Redundancy Design: Considerations

There are several methods to create a redundant network, and they all require careful network planning and deployment. Some methods are standard across all network component manufacturers, and some methods are exclusive to specific vendors. Each method has both advantages and disadvantages, depending on the point of view. For example, some methods are less reliable but easier to implement. And some methods have virtually no switching time but require additional cabling and expensive components that support the protocol. Of all network redundancy designs, the most reliable involve the simplest configuration on the fewest number of devices.

When planning for network redundancy, it’s important to shift focus from the node level to the network level while thinking about all the ways a network can fail. As part of this approach, it is important to fully understand the needs of the most demanding network applications.

With these considerations in mind, there are several key questions that business leaders will need to explore before deciding on a network redundancy design. These include:

  • What type of operations do you carry out? What type of applications do you intend to run on the network? What environments do you operate in? And, from this point of view, which radiofrequency bands are in use?
  • What is the risk tolerance of your operations and how critical is production availability? For example, is it necessary to have an availability of five to nine? How does downtime impact your business?
  • How often do you perform performance maintenance? And what is your tolerance for downtime in such cases?
  • What provisions should you put in place for power supply redundancy? For example, how serious would a power outage be to your operations and business? Do you need a backup generator or backup battery? And would these options be feasible?

The Converged Network Topology Pattern

network topology

So which model of redundancy will reign supreme over all smart manufacturing plants in the years to come?

At Ericsson, we believe that the convergence of cellular 5G systems with Time-Aware Ethernet (TSN) wired networking offers the most optimal redundant network design for today’s manufacturing enterprises, providing end-to-end connectivity. fully deterministic and meeting all key requirements. on industrial communication technologies. We believe this model will be critical to realizing all major industrial automation use cases in the future.

TSN is a set of IEEE 802 standards that enables Ethernet networks to provide Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees for time-sensitive and/or critical traffic and applications, including manufacturing operations. When converged with the 3GPP standard for ultra-reliability, ultra-low latency communications (URLCC), the integrated time synchronization of the two networks provides a highly redundant network topology with complementary highly deterministic connectivity features. This is achieved through a common reference time for industrial terminals which allows limited low latency. The disjoint forwarding paths of the 5G and TSN segments are also aligned to provide end-to-end ultra-reliability and high availability.

With multiple paths synchronized between the two network systems, today’s manufacturers have a reliable and innovative toolkit to build the smart manufacturing centers of tomorrow.

Learn more

Take a technical look at the role of 5G-TSN integration in meeting networking requirements for industrial automation in this Ericsson Technology Review article. You can also learn more about the robustness mechanics that make the 5G system the toughest in the game.

Find out how the integration of 5G and Time-Sensitive Networks (TSN) can help develop the smart factories of the future.

Learn how network operations can make 5G systems as resilient as possible for business and mission-critical services.

Explore the market potential for smart manufacturing use cases in Ericsson’s Network Slicing: Top 10 Use Cases to Target. Or discover your own revenue opportunities in Ericsson’s smart Manufacturing Value Calculator.

Read Ericsson’s Connected Manufacturing report.

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