5G and multi-access edge computing – sample applications in industrial campus networks

September 12, 2022 | Interview with Peter Heusinger and Matthias Frei

What is multi-access edge computing (MEC) used for in industrial applications and what benefits does it offer?

MEC lies at the interface between 5G and the operational technology that underpins automation. This is where industrial applications establish an efficient connection between 5G and a wide range of automation solutions. Edge computing ensures that the combination of 5G and control technology can sustain the low-latency and real-time conditions required.

What MEC services are now available at the 5G Bavaria test bed?

When it comes to MEC, we offer support in planning a suitable system architecture, as well as in selecting commercial MEC solutions or using an open source alternative, including the integration of an industrial 5G campus network solution. In addition, we help implement use cases and custom applications.

What particular adjustments are necessary before MEC applications can be implemented?

First comes the planning of the edge computing system required to define the system architecture. Edge computing components can be connected either to the radio access network or to the core network. In monolithic solutions, MEC runs on central servers. In a distributed system, it runs on computing resources with a range of performance profiles. This is necessary if the computing power mandated by the real-time and latency requirements has to be positioned closer to the automation technology. A major concern here is how communications systems – such as industrial field buses, real-time Ethernet communication and wireless communications technologies – are connected to 5G.

How can Fraunhofer IIS help implement MEC? Can you give us some specific examples?

When it comes to implementation jobs, a distinction is made between selecting a suitable framework and integrating it into the campus network, and creating applications for future operations. Fraunhofer provides support in both instances. We start by collecting and analyzing the customer’s use cases. These form the basis for defining the edge computing architecture, including the required communications interfaces and applications.

Which partners does Fraunhofer IIS already have for MEC?

So far we’ve advised a number of industrial companies on the technical implementation of their use cases. We’ve also helped plan campus networks, integrate and modify multi-access edge computing solutions, and implement various applications on a technical level.

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5G and multi-access edge computing – sample applications in industrial campus network

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