The term “Industry 4.0” refers to the 4th industrial revolution brought about by digital technologies to dramatically increase operational efficiencies primarily through the use of analytics and automation.
Wireless systems are seen as playing a primary role in this revolution to more easily allow for on-demand manufacturing process reconfigurations along with high volume data collection via industrial internet of things (IIoT) networks. The motivation of the project described in this paper is to investigate the performance and feasibility of using multi-hop pseudo-mesh indoor networks in the 60 GHz V-Band for industrial automation applications to support Industry 4.0 use cases. These use cases include the real-time control of multiple robotic apparatuses using a dedicated multi-access edge compute (MEC) system.
Another goal of the project is to characterize the deployed wireless connection robustness and their practical limitations in both static and dynamic links. In addition to performance evaluation it is also important to understand the current state of supporting component technologies and the viability of a robust technology ecosystem for deploying and supporting these networks.
The main challenge for the initial phases of this project was the fact that there are no commercially available 60 GHz true mesh products currently available on the market. Mesh connectivity for this project was emulated using multiple point-to-multipoint links. Another challenging aspect was that the 60 GHz Consumer Premises Equipment (CPE) endpoints in our trials are the same physical devices as the access nodes with a different operational configuration which would not be the case in an actual commercial deployment. Lastly there were some use cases on our trials which required connectivity translation to interwork with 60 GHz network, so there may be issues addressing some of the needs of some potential customers depending on their specific objectives and equipment. Many of these issues are being addressed in later phases of this project and will be detailed in a future publication.
However despite the challenges of these initial project phases, it has been found through measurements and practice that networks with 60 GHz technology can meet needs of (Industrial Automation) (IA) use cases today if deployed and managed properly.