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Schneider Electric, NTT team to trial private wireless network in IoT environments

Combined capabilities from global technology services firm and energy management and automation tech provider aim to enable a secure and on-premise end-to-end digital platform that supports different industries with the benefits of private 5G

Aiming to “dramatically” advance digital services in the manufacturing environment, global technology services provider NTT has entered into a collaboration with Schneider Electric to deliver an on-premise private network service and digitisation-enabling platform.

The development of the Private 5G (P5G) offering builds on an established partnership between NTT and the automation services company to help clients achieve efficiency and sustainability goals with advanced digital processes in the Industry X sectors.

The P5G platform will be piloted in early 2022 at Schneider’s Lexington Smart Factory, the first of Schneider Electric’s US plants to become a Smart Factory showcase site using IoT connectivity, Edge and predictive analytics in a bid to drive energy efficiency and further sustainability goals.

The P5G will power key use cases that solve challenges around equipment availability, machine performance and product quality. The two companies will integrate “machine vision” capabilities – such as industrial cameras with specialised optics – into existing factory and warehouse automation systems that identify faults.

Through co-innovation, the offering will provide a model for operational integrity management that scales across a broad footprint of global factory environments to power Industry 4.0, enabling Network Edge platforms.

Schneider Electric’s prefabricated datacentres are designed to help cloud and service providers scale quickly and efficiently while also meeting their sustainability goals. In addition to what is claimed to be a 60% reduction in uptime compared with traditional datacentres, the prefabricated modular datacentres are manufactured with sustainable construction methods and features that boost reliability, optimise operational energy savings and leave a smaller environmental footprint.

In partnering with NTT, Schneider Electric said it will drive innovations for self-contained Edge Private 5G use cases. P5G use cases that could be addressed include “unfettered” connectivity for improved management of AGV devices across a factory footprint that yields more efficient and accurate workflow systems; machine vision application to detect anomalies in machine performance to ensure high performance, availability, and quality of product; augmented reality services that enable remote worker support for enhanced equipment maintenance; and management and worker experience.

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To further the partnership, NTT will deploy its P5G services and datacentres with Schneider Electric technologies, including a prefabricated datacentre to integrate and test its edge offerings using EcoStruxure services. This is expected to be fully operative in Schneider Electric factories during the second quarter of 2022.

“With this strategic partnership, we are confident that NTT’s P5G offering will support Schneider Electric business and service-level objectives with a powerful machine vision solution that solves for operational continuity and performance throughout the Lexington and Lincoln plant facilities,” said Shahid Ahmed, executive vice-president of New Ventures and Innovation at NTT.

“Our P5G platform brings full-stack managed services, process workflow and internet of things application integration capabilities that both address strategic objectives towards factory high-performance and net-zero carbon emission goals.

“Above and beyond superior security and control offered through this partnership, wireless networks offer superior benefits over a wired network from a sustainability perspective – smaller copper cabling footprint means minimising energy usage and aligning to our net-zero carbon goals,” said Luc Rémont, executive vice-president of international operations at Schneider Electric.

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