Orange 5G Lab, a demonstration of the possibilities of the next generation 5G network for businesses

The next-generation 5G network is a huge and extensive application, mainly in enterprises, where reliable communication, high bandwidth and low latency are required. Orange has decided to make it available to companies now, even before the technology is popular in our country.

For the purposes of its presentation, the Orange 5G Lab was created, in which access points to the 3.6 GHz 5G network were installed – this is the so-called campus network. The same was established a year ago in the special economic zone in Łódź and as the first commercial settlements in the Miele washing machine factory in Ksawerów and the Nokia factory in Bydgoszcz.

Julien Ducarroz, Chairman of Orange Polska:

5G will be a very important impetus for further development and dynamic digitalization of the Polish economy. We are actively participating in this process by creating the first campus networks with our customers. Orange 5G Lab is a place where we develop and test 5G solutions, also in cooperation with startups and present innovative business solutions

We had the opportunity at the Orange 5G Lab to see several stands where the capabilities of the 5G target were presented. You will see them in detail in the attached video, which we recorded in this laboratory of the future, I will try to briefly describe them to you.

Training in the use of 5G and virtual reality (VR)

In the virtual reality station, I was able to personally check how an employee can be trained in the washing machine factory mentioned above, without the need to prepare a special station for this or involve other people for this training.

In fact, it can be done in a small space and equip a new employee with VR glasses that download the training program from the network and guide the trainee step by step through the process. From learning how to use the program to specific activities that a given employee will later perform on a real machine.

I could pick up each item, see it and put it away, then transfer it to a virtual machine that put together individual parts of the washing machine. I must say that I received practically full training in assembling the drum in the washing machine, almost 1: 1 like in real life.

Augmented reality (AR) in training

In turn, augmented reality can be used in enterprises in “combat” conditions with real machines or in the field. All you need is software in which, for example, the entire company infrastructure, all machines, all devices, including every cable connected to it, is digitized.

For the novice employee to get acquainted with it, he does not have to use paper instructions that he does not have to take with him, a smartphone or tablet with a camera is enough. With this camera, we scan a given element, which is automatically recognized by the software and displays detailed instructions for each of its elements.

Augmented reality is also useful for field work, where, for example, you can delegate a new employee with smart glasses, equipped with a camera and a screen. In the event of a problem in the field, such an employee can get in touch with a more experienced employee of the company, who later sees the problem on his computer screen, can take a screenshot of this view, including describe the solution to the problem, or point out a given defect to be repaired and send it on screen with glasses to an employee in the field.

Video analysis by artificial intelligence (AI)

In an artificial intelligence (AI) booth, we were shown what a workplace quality and safety control system looks like, which uses a camera system installed in the room.

For example, we are given the use of it in a washing machine factory, where these cameras are installed on the production stand and a special algorithm analyzes the individual processes. In the event that at a certain stage of production it detects irregularities – for example, the absence of a screw, the given washing machine is distinguished by being removed from further processes, so the faulty machine does not leave the factory.

In the case of workplace security checks, the algorithm can be programmed to identify areas within a given area where you can move freely, where you absolutely cannot approach selected machinery within a defined distance, or where you cannot move around without protective clothing. When the defined rules are violated, the system immediately sends an alert to those responsible for workplace safety.

Autonomous mobile robots

Equally interesting is the use of autonomous mobile robots, which can be used in production halls or in warehouses to transport various items and control them at a computer station – showing it on a virtual map specific points where it should go with them.

For example, when a certain employee finishes one of the products in a production station, it is enough to mark it in the system, which will call a robot which will transport it to the warehouse or further processing, without it being necessary to involve employees.

The robot is equipped with a 5G module, which provides uninterrupted communication with it. It also has an integrated sensor system and recognizes obstacles from a distance, when it approaches them or when it meets a worker passing on the road, it simply avoids them.

Drones at the service of industry, agriculture and forestry

The hero of the last position at the Orange 5G Lab was a giant drone with hybrid propulsion, capable of working continuously in the field for 5 hours. This allows him to be sent on a round trip on a mission up to 180 km.

Michał Polewiak, development strategy expert at Orange:

Connectivity has proven to be crucial, thanks to which drones can move around and collect large amounts of data, and the development of the 5G network, which greatly facilitates navigation in conurbations.

They can be used in security companies, city and forest monitoring, when checking the technical condition of heat pipes or during excavations. Depending on the required application, it can be fitted with appropriate sensors and scanners prior to a mission.

For example, when checking the status of the heat pipeline, the drone is equipped with a thermal camera. In turn, when checking the state of vegetation, hyperspectral analysis was used – measurement of reflected electromagnetic radiation in a wide range of the spectrum. This allows you not only to check which trees are diseased, but also to detect what disease it is.

All of these and similar missions provide huge amounts of data, which is then processed in the Orange cloud. Companies that decide to rent such a drone from the operator receive the E2E (End-to-End) service. Orange, in addition to the drone itself, also provides it with suitable sensors, and it receives a ready analysis and report with answers to questions from a given company within 48 hours.

Why 5G companies? Wifi not enough?

As a summary of this presentation, I will answer a question that probably came to mind as I did during this one. Why 5G when we have WiFi? The next-generation network, in addition to high bandwidth and low latency, is significantly more reliable, as it provides uninterrupted connectivity, necessary in production processes, and requires a much smaller infrastructure.

Orange installed a 5G network in the aforementioned Miele washing machine factory, and to provide connectivity in one of the halls with an area of ​​6 thousand. m2, it was enough to install only four access points there, thanks to which uninterrupted communication with the same parameters could be used anywhere in the hall.

In the event that such a room uses WiFi connectivity, such access points and signal amplifiers would have to be installed many more access points, and this would still often be insufficient and at the time of connection loss – even for a moment. For example, with the autonomous mobile robot presented here, in such a case its subsequent independent progress would prove impossible and would require the physical intervention of an employee.

These are of course only examples of applications, in the future Orange plans, together with its partners, to expand the scope of services provided with the use of 5G, also with the participation of startups that have been invited to the development part of the Orange 5G Laboratory. They will be able to create, test and develop innovative services and solutions using 5G, relying on Orange experts and the 5G mobile network, Edge Computing solutions, the IoT platform and other components, such as communication modules, routers or cameras, which are Orange will supply them.

The effect of these works can be presented later in the showroom (this is the part we visited with the camera), which should facilitate its subsequent commercial implementation and reach potential customers with it.

The article was written in collaboration with the operator Orange.

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