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Schneider teams up with NTT to drive industrial uses of 5G

22 March, 2022

Schneider Electric has joined forces with the global telecommunications giant NTT to implement private 5G (P5G) – a private on-premises networking and digitisation-enabling platform designed to advance digital technologies in manufacturing environments. The two companies are building on an existing long-term partnership to use 5G to power IoT environments.

The P5G platform is being trialled initially at a Schneider plant in Lexington, Kentucky – the first Schneider plant in the US to become a smart factory – where the high-speed, low-latency wireless communications technology will be applied to IoT connections, edge analytics, and predictive functions to help improve efficiency and sustainability. The platform will also be used to enhance equipment availability, machine performance and product quality.

For example, the companies plan to integrate machine vision capabilities into the site’s existing factory and warehouse automation systems to identify faults and wear-and-tear to help analyse the root causes of incidents almost in real-time.

Other P5G applications they are planning to investigate include:
• improving the management of AGVs (automatic guided vehicles) to achieve more efficient and accurate workflows;
• using machine vision to detect anomalies in machine performance to ensure high performance, availability and product quality; and
• implementing augmented reality (AR) to support remote working to enhance equipment maintenance and management.

NTT also plans to deploy its private 5G services with existing Schneider technologies such as its prefabricated data centres that help cloud and service providers to scale quickly and efficiently, while meeting sustainability goals. In addition to cutting deployment times by up to 60% compared to traditional data centres, the containerised, modular data centres include functions to boost reliability, optimise energy savings, and reduce their environmental footprint.

Prefabricated data centres incorporating the 5G technology are expected to be operating at Schneider factories during the second quarter of 2022. They will integrate and test edge offerings using Schneider’s EcoStruxure technologies.

Schneider Electric’s smart factory in Lexington, Kentucky, will host its joint 5G trials with NTT

Schneider says the partnership with NTT will extend its manufacturing expertise. “Above and beyond superior security and control offered through this partnership, wireless networks offer superior benefits over a wired network from a sustainability perspective – smaller copper cabling footprint means minimising energy usage and aligning to our net-zero carbon goals,” explains Luc Rémont, Schneider’s executive vice-president for international operations.

Shahid Ahmed, NTT’s executive vice-president for new ventures and innovation, adds that the P5G platform “brings full-stack managed services, process workflow and IoT application integration capabilities that both addresses strategic objectives towards factory high performance and net-zero carbon emission goals.”

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