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Why is the manufacturing industry enthusiastic about private networks?

Private wireless networks raise massive interest among manufacturing decision-makers all over the world. One clear use case is to connect moving objects on the factory floor such as robots, vehicles, and people. But that’s not all. What are the driving factors behind the enthusiasm to implement private networks?

Manufacturing industries face growing challenges in their digital transformation to improve productivity and to ensure business continuity. Plant owners have identified that current networks are a critical bottleneck that inhibits development. For instance, urgent upgrades must be done to perform real-time monitoring of machines, equipment, people, vehicles, and material flows, and to reach the potential offered by Industry 4.0.

“At the moment, existing networks in production environments use fixed cabling or WiFi, but considering new demands, they are either inflexible, inappropriate, or unreliable. When I’m talking to people in manufacturing, one common topic is how WiFi poses lots of problems. It is not reliable enough to ensure uninterrupted connectivity. That is one driver towards private wireless networks,” says Etteplan’s Technology Director Jaakko Ala-Paavola.

Benefits: reliability, availability, security, scalability, and ease to deploy

Reliability, availability, and security are key benefits of private networks. They also offer scalability for massive numbers of connected units and a huge traffic volume. On top of that, they are relatively quick and cost-efficient to deploy. No wonder manufacturers are flocking everywhere to acquire their own private networks.

“One clear use case in manufacturing is any moving objects, be it robots, vehicles, drones, or people. Also, when plant layouts are modernized to consist of movable production cells, a private network is a perfect solution,” Ala-Paavola continues.

According to Jaakko Ala-Paavola, new areas of interest are possibilities for audio communications and for cutting down the number of networks.

“In larger plants, where people move about with machines, forklifts, bucket loaders, or trucks, there is a natural demand for talking over radio channels. Now, the ability to use a private network to replace old radio communications is clearly getting more attention. In general, many plant owners see the deployment of a private network as a way to consolidate their heterogenous network environments,” Ala-Paavola says.

84% of manufacturers plan to deploy private wireless

According to a recent global survey by ABI Research and Nokia, up to 84% of manufacturing decision-makers say that they will deploy their own private wireless networks in their operations. They plan to upgrade communications and control networks in the next two years to advance Industry 4.0 and digital transformation.

Regarding Industry 4.0, private networks enable essential targets such as comprehensive condition monitoring, increasing automation, and monitoring material flows and equipment. When the maintenance needs of equipment can be predicted and planned based on measurement data, unexpected production downtime can be avoided. The objective is also to improve safety at factories.

Etteplan designs and delivers private networks for all industries. We also handle the integration of all necessary systems and applications that is crucial to turn new connectivity into business outcomes. Also, a private network as a turnkey service is available.

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Private Networks - the new business driver

Jaakko Ala-Paavola

Jaakko Ala-Paavola

Technology Director Solutions & Technologies Software & Embedded Solutions
+358 447 552 936
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