France's biggest private 5G network to give steel works self-driven trains and augmented reality
Orange Business Services (OBS) and Ericsson have launched 5G Steel, a project to test 4G and 5G connectivity at ArcelorMittal's industrial sites in France over the next three years. The initiative has government support as part of the France Recovery plan.
The mission is to combine better performance, lower energy consumption and higher safety standards in vast complex industrial plants of a steel works.
The 5G private network will cover all of ArcelorMittal's sites, outdoors and indoors, in an area currently connected by 44 kilometres of track. Workers and machine operators will need a versatile, omnipresent network to support computer modelled processes, connected devices, self-driving lorries and trains and augmented reality. Each app needs gigabits of data in millisecond response times.
Network slicing for big data jobs
Ericsson, OBS and ArcelorMittal’s development teams are currently working together, on a project basis, to see how network slicing can orchestrate resources and support this digital transformation.
5G Steel’s digitisation of ArcelorMittal's plants will start at Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque, progressing on to Mardyck in Hauts-de-France and Florange in France’s Grand Est region.
OBS takes a ‘use case approach’ to the 5G Steel project, said Valérie Cussac, OBS’s VP of smart mobility services. “Our dual expertise as an operator-integrator, means that ArcelorMittal benefits from this solid private network, maximising the security of critical data performance and improving productivity," said Cussac.
Augmented reality gets you there quicker
Remote maintenance with augmented reality and autonomous vehicles are top of the agenda. Maintenance teams will use tablets to access documents and, thanks to 5G, augmented reality applications will immerse them in each situation as if they were there. The extra access to imagery and expert help should give their operational support more impact. The immediacy should mean that work is recorded quicker and more accurately.
"Digital technologies are already transforming processes in production, maintenance, logistics and development,” said David Glijer, director of digital transformation at Arcelor Mittal France. “Operations are more reliable and our teams are safer."
Self-driving goods trains and lorries
ArcelorMittal's sites are so enormous that rail transport is essential. The Dunkirk plant has 44 kilometres of track moving products between each stage of manufacture. ArcelorMittal’s plan is to use 5G to run autonomous trains on an internal private network. The FirstMile service is due to start in 2023. A self-driving heavy-duty road vehicle, that could carry 120 tons of steel coils, in in development.
"5G Steel demonstrates our expertise in private networks for complex industrial environments," said Franck Bouétard, head of Ericsson France.