Nokia has introduced its ‘Future X for industries’ strategy and architecture, developed by Bell Labs, to drive dramatic productivity improvements across a wide range of industry sectors. As technologies such as industrial Internet of Things (IIoT); edge cloud supporting augmented intelligence and advanced security analytics; and end-to-end 5G capable networks become a reality, they will radically speed up the digital transformation of industries such as manufacturing, logistics, transportation and energy, as well as governments and cities. Nokia’s holistic approach promises to help drive a new era of productivity and human-machine interaction that will unlock trillions of dollars of economic value in the next decade.
To date, the digitalization and automation of enterprises has yielded productivity benefits, predominantly by shifting business support functions from physical to digital operations. While these gains have been notable, only about 30 percent of enterprises – largely in IT-centric industries – have been able to realize the ‘digital opportunity’. Importantly, traditional asset-intensive industries – which comprise more than two-thirds of GDP in the U.S. – have yet to experience the full benefits of this digital transformation, known as Industry 4.0.
Physical industries depend on a variety of emerging business- and mission-critical applications that, when digitized and automated, offer the potential to make power grids smarter, factories more productive, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) responsive and reliable, cities safer and more livable and much, much more. In short, there is the potential to transform human existence and radically enhance industries and infrastructure in what will be the 4th industrial revolution.
Future X for industries
Emerging Industry 4.0 applications will require seamlessly interconnected systems that can sense, analyze, optimize, and control key attributes and actions across a broad range of assets including machinery, tools and devices. Nokia’s Future X for industries architecture provides a framework for open, connected systems for each major industry that can accelerate the digitization and automation of these physical assets, with pinpoint precision and augmented intelligence, no matter where they are located.
To accomplish this, networks must be able to connect everything simultaneously, with guaranteed quality of service, even as the number, diversity and distribution of assets grows. For companies to analyze information about the state of those assets and optimize their operations, networks must have the flexibility to connect industry applications to compute resources in a way that meets stringent latency, capacity, reliability and security requirements. They must be able to dynamically adapt to transport massively varying amounts of data between a multitude of devices, sensors, machines and platforms to garner and apply deeper insights that ultimately support precise execution, maximize productivity and improve safety.
Marcus Weldon, President, Nokia Bell Labs, said: “Industry is driven by a constant quest for leading profitability, which in a dynamic marketplace requires maximum productivity. It is now possible for those in both the digital and physical economies to accelerate their digital transformations and realize unprecedented productivity gains. The Future X for industries architecture is designed to describe the essential foundation of this Industry 4.0 revolution, much as the Future X network vision we published in 2015 is serving as a blueprint for service provider network evolution.”
The Future X for industries architecture incorporates distinct technology layers designed to meet key industrial networking requirements, including:
- The Business Applications layer, which encompasses the specific applications for each industry segment, including key areas such as predictive maintenance, workforce efficiency and safety, and asset optimization
- The Digital Value Platforms layer that supports industrial automation, cognitive analytics and digital operations, and enabling network and device platforms
- The Multi-cloud layer that delivers proximity and elasticity of compute to ensure that strict performance requirements of business-critical applications are met using the most appropriate cloud models (from local clouds to edge and hybrid clouds)
- The High-performance Networking layer that offers dedicated deep, ultra-reliable connectivity (both wired and wireless) to link everything – workforce, devices, machines and tools, clouds, partners and customers flexibly and seamlessly
These layers are coupled with a ‘defense in depth’ cyber-security approach that encompasses both business processes and technology-based interventions to protect data and infrastructure end-to-end, with the network as a key detection and mediation layer.
When combined with richer human-machine interfaces (HMI), these capabilities will deliver intuitive, augmented and precise control of autonomous systems and manifestly more efficient digital operations.
And the demand for such networks is enormous. Some estimates indicate that LTE sites for industrial and commercial uses alone could be more than twice that of existing consumer-oriented wide-area network deployments.
Rich Karpinski Research Director, Voice of the Enterprise – IoT, 451 Research, said: “While industrial enterprises are making solid progress on leveraging technologies such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing and analytics, until now the communications realm has too often been an afterthought. An overarching framework encompassing business-critical networking capabilities with deep reach and high performance not only complements, but also helps to drive IIoT, edge cloud/multi-cloud and AI, and could provide an essential next step in industry’s digital transformation journey.”