How to Design Private Networks for Manufacturing
Private networks are part of critical infrastructure improvements in manufacturing. Private 4G/5G networks provide reliable connectivity to overcome coverage challenges in manufacturing facilities, like construction that often includes metal, concrete, screening, and pipework. Private networks for manufacturing provide secure and reliable communication between machines, allowing for automation and efficient data transfer.
By using private networks in manufacturing operations, industrial organizations can also benefit from improved performance and reduced costs. Security features, such as authentication and encryption, are key components of private networks, enabling secure communication and limiting the risk of cyber-attacks.
Additionally, with private networks, organizations can optimize their network infrastructure and customize it to their specific needs. Private networks also provide better control over network performance, allowing for higher data speeds and better coverage.
Manufacturing requires a sophisticated network infrastructure. This infrastructure often includes integration with operational technology like IoT and automation systems, as well as more conventional IT and telecommunication needs.
Manufacturing assets are also becoming more connected, data-driven and interconnected across broad supply chains. As the industry transforms there is an increased need for high-capacity and low-latency reliable connectivity. Accurate private networks in manufacturing can help enterprises avoid the extremely high costs of downtime and provide complete control of data assets.
Radio Frequency (RF) engineers and operations must work together to create the optimal private wireless network to guarantee the highest level of performance possible.
Designing a private wireless network in manufacturing environments requires careful consideration of the environment, power requirements, signal propagation characteristics, antenna placement, security measures, and other factors. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of all the components that make up a wireless system.
Often multiple technologies will be used in combination, with a variety of integration or gateway approaches needed to combine technologies like Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), 4G, 5G, or Wi-F-6/6E. iBwave offers certification programs for designing in-building wireless network projects, site surveys, and the fundamentals of testing. This article will provide an overview of the process needed to design private networks for use in manufacturing environments.
The first step in designing a private wireless network for manufacturing is to determine what type of system is required. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, different types of systems may be necessary.
It is essential to understand what types of devices will be connected to ensure that there are no compatibility issues when choosing hardware or software solutions.
You also must make sure that the designed network provides the required KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) regarding signal strength, throughput and latency for all of those devices.
Devices and applications may include:
Additionally, it is important to understand current regulations regarding frequency, usage, and licensing (signal leakage, EMF) before beginning any network design or installation process.
Once these initial steps have been completed, it is time to begin designing the physical layout of the network itself. iBwave’s Network design solutions allow you to upload floor plans or photos of site locations to design your network and automatically calculate coverage.
iBwave’s software allows you to model antenna placement to optimize coverage and performance while minimizing interference from other radio signals or environmental elements such as infrastructure in the building itself.
Power requirements must also be considered when deciding on an antenna placement strategy. Some installations may require additional power sources due to their distance from existing outlets or wiring limitations.
Security is also an important consideration. Comprehensive security protocols must be implemented to protect sensitive proprietary information within the network as well as prevent malicious actors from gaining unauthorized access.
Robust security requires careful selection and configuration of encryption protocols as well as authentication mechanisms based on user roles within each organization’s internal IT structure.
By combining these elements into one cohesive plan, engineers can create robust and secure private cellular networks that meet industry standards while providing maximum performance.
Design Considerations for Private Networks for Manufacturing
When designing a private cellular network for manufacturing, there are several key considerations to consider.
First, engineers and IT professionals must consider the available spectrum, the frequency band that the network will be operating on. A wide range of frequencies are available for use with private networks, for example for 5G in the sub 6GHz (FR1) and mmWave (FR2) band. It’s important to select the ones which are suitable for the particular application.
The second consideration when designing a private cellular network is the frequency of operation.
Depending on the application, different frequencies may be more suitable than others. Frequency selection should consider factors such as signal strength and interference characteristics to provide optimal performance.
Finally, another important design consideration is location.
Radio transmitters must be positioned appropriately to guarantee maximum coverage area while minimizing interference from other networks or signals in the area. Proper placement of antennas can also help reduce noise levels and improve overall signal quality.
iBwave software uses advanced 3D modeling to predict coverage and advanced capacity simulations for radio transmitters to determine the ideal locations in your designs.
Challenges in Designing Private Networks for Manufacturing
When designing a private cellular network for manufacturing, there are challenges that come with creating a reliable connection.
Connectivity, coverage, and security are all key aspects of any wireless network and need to be considered when planning out the system design.
Connectivity is the most important aspect of any wireless network. In industrial settings, poor connectivity leads to data loss, disruption of services, and lost productivity.
Engineers must make sure that networks can provide the required bandwidth and latency to support the desired applications. They should also consider factors such as interference from other networks. Physical obstacles such as buildings, machinery, and the terrain between the small cells or antennas and the end-devices should be modeled in the software for accurate network design and reliable connectivity.
Coverage is another critical factor in providing network reliability. To provide adequate coverage, engineers must consider factors such as transmitter power levels, antenna placement, and frequency selection.
Additionally, they should consider what type of radio waves will be used for transmission. Line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight propagation methods can have a significant impact on overall coverage area.
Finally, security is essential for any private wireless network for manufacturing purposes.
Access control measures (such as authentication protocols) should be in place to protect against unauthorized access to confidential data or resources. Encryption technologies (such as TLS/SSL) should also be employed to prevent eavesdropping on communication links; and firewalls should be implemented at each access point.
Additionally, physical security measures (such as camera surveillance) may be necessary depending on the environment in which the system will operate.
The Design Process
The design process for a private cellular network for manufacturing can be divided into three distinct phases: spectrum selection, frequency planning, and infrastructure deployment.
The first step in designing a private cellular network is to select the right spectrum. The application requirements, signal strength, and interference characteristics of available frequencies should be considered when selecting the spectrum.
The selected spectrum must provide enough bandwidth for the desired application and should also anticipate future expansion plans. Regulatory requirements also need to be adhered to for the chosen frequency range.
The next step is to consider the antenna type and size required for the chosen spectrum. The antenna size and shape should be in line with the range, performance, and power requirements of the system. Antennas should be optimized to meet the needs of the application and reduce interference.
iBwave software can be used to design and plan the number of antennas and the location of each antenna to ensure proper coverage and signal strength in all areas.
Once the spectrum has been selected, engineers must then plan the frequency of operation to maximize signal quality and minimize interference from other networks.
Frequency planning involves selecting an appropriate combination of transmitter power levels, antenna placement, and channel spacing that will provide adequate coverage while minimizing noise levels.
Additionally, measures such as directional antennas or additional repeaters may be necessary to provide reliable coverage over larger areas or through obstructions such as walls or hillsides.
Engineers must also analyze the environment to assess potential sources of interference and develop strategies to reduce or mitigate them. Mitigation might involve limiting the transmission power of nearby base stations, using directional antennas, or adding filters or shielding to reduce interference.
By making sure that the system is properly configured and optimized, engineers can ensure that the network will be reliable and provide quality service to its users.
The final phase of designing a private cellular network involves deploying the necessary infrastructure components such as base stations, small cells, access points (AP’s), and transceivers. It is important that these components are properly installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications to provide optimal performance and reliability.
Additionally, proper maintenance should also be carried out regularly to maintain optimal performance over time.
Finally, measures such as access control systems, encryption technologies, firewalls, and physical security devices may also need to be implemented depending on the environment and application requirements.
Designing a private network for manufacturing is a complex and challenging process, but one that can lead to greater efficiency, reliability, and security. Proper spectrum selection and frequency planning is essential to guarantee the desired performance and coverage levels are met. Additionally, infrastructure deployment needs to be carefully planned to maximize signal quality and reduce noise levels.
Overall, RF engineers and IT professionals need to have a comprehensive understanding of the available technologies and their associated challenges to successfully design a private cellular network for manufacturing.
A successful private cellular network for manufacturing requires a thorough and disciplined approach that combines a deep knowledge of RF engineering, IT expertise, and a clear understanding of the system’s requirements.
iBwave’s solutions help to simplify and improve the private network design process. With the right planning and resources, it is possible to create a secure, reliable efficient network that meets the needs of the manufacturing environment.
To learn more about design considerations in private networks for manufacturing, watch our on-demand webinar: https://bit.ly/3X5zXK2