The 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed at Fraunhofer IIS

September 13, 2022 | Interview with Martin Tittel and Ralph Dümmler

The 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed at Fraunhofer IIS is an open environment for testing specific customer use cases in industry and logistics. It employs the latest wireless technology under real-life conditions in a stand-alone 5G campus network. 5G can considerably boost the performance of wireless connections in an industrial setting, thereby opening up new possibilities for implementing more complex and security-critical applications wirelessly.

5G-ACIA has endorsed the 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed since 2021.

What kind of customers are interested in using the 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed?

In addition to manufacturing companies (including automotive, machinery/systems, engineering, and chemical/pharmaceutical manufacturers) and logistics companies, customers who can use the test bed to try out their applications include telecommunications suppliers and providers such as MNOs, network suppliers, specialists (e.g. for critical communications) and vertical players (alliances). Examples can be found in the following sectors:

  • Intralogistics: autonomous mobile robots, AGV transport systems, asset tracking
  • Factory floor: production automation, remote control
  • Communication: big data, augmented worker support, safety monitoring
© Fraunhofer IIS
A realistic setting for the 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed is provided by the interior and exterior facilities of the Test and Application Center L.I.N.K. at the Nuremberg location.

What measurement and test options does the 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed offer?

The test bed is equipped with a range of solutions that help us take measurements with and for our partners, conduct our own research and development activities, and test devices and network components. We have a wireless 5G protocol analyzer, a portable solution for testing and monitoring 5G campus networks, a high-performance portable HF real-time spectrum analyzer, and various other measuring devices such as a PTP analyzer, other signal and spectrum analyzers, vector signal generators for 5G signals, and a range of antennas, amplifiers and filters. 

© Fraunhofer IIS
The 3D positioning system helps reproduce test processes.

What tests have already been carried out?

Having access to all trace and debugging data in our own 5G network (we have our own locally operated stand-alone 5G core) allows us to offer detailed insights and root cause analysis of detected errors to optimize systems and products (development tests). Functionality tests are about verifying a certain function, both end-to-end as well in front of testers or reference systems. In the fields of communication and also positioning, it’s possible to test the performance of system components or complete solutions. Among other things, the 3D positioning system is available as a reference.

Interoperability tests are also very important. We use these to test the compatibility of products or prototypes, especially with an open RAN 5G network. Then there are stability and long-term tests, which are about automatically repeating a predefined sequence of different scenarios a set number of times. Mobility tests can be conducted inside the facility or outdoors. We can also run cell edge scenarios to assess the behavior on the edge of the wireless coverage area.

What future developments will be rolled out at the 5G Bavaria Industry 4.0 test bed over the coming months?

Our 5G wireless network complies with open RAN standards and we currently have eight radio units available. We plan to equip the test bed’s Nuremberg and Erlangen locations with additional radio units (e.g. for outdoor and office areas) as well as with radio units for the new FR2 frequency bands (mmWave).

In terms of functionality, the focus is on interoperability, in particular with more industrial devices (in the future also for 3GPP releases 16 and 17 with URLLC and 5G positioning), and on mobility support. We will also be implementing edge computing. We’re currently in the process of introducing the complementary technologies Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, together with timing-based Wi-Fi positioning. Yet another area of focus is the connection or integration of some of our own software system components (e.g. a location management function) with the RAN and the core network.

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5G-Bavaria-Testbed »Industrie 4.0«

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