Digital transformation, multi-domain collaboration will create new opportunities

Currently, policy makers and industry leaders in various countries are defining visions for industry transformation in the next decade. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy issued the “Industry 4.0 Vision 2030”, which identified three closely linked strategic action areas that are critical to the successful implementation of Industry 4.0, including autonomy, interoperability and sustainability.

The digital transformation of the industry has entered a new stage

Since Germany launched the Industry 4.0 plan in 2011, the concept of industry digital transformation has been accepted by most advanced economies. Whether it is European countries, the United States or China, similar programs have been launched to promote industry development and improve production efficiency. The new crown virus crisis has highlighted the need to accelerate the transformation. South Korea has launched a five-year “Digital New Deal” plan to promote economic growth and lay the foundation for an innovative digital economy. my country has also launched a new infrastructure plan to build new digital infrastructure across the country to offset the negative impact of the new coronavirus pandemic on the economy and promote long-term sustainable growth.

Digital transformation, multi-domain collaboration will create new opportunities

Currently, policy makers and industry leaders in various countries are defining visions for industry transformation in the next decade. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy issued the “Industry 4.0 Vision 2030”, which identified three closely linked strategic action areas that are critical to the successful implementation of Industry 4.0, including autonomy, interoperability and sustainability. In its “Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and Two-Three-Five-Year Vision”, the Chinese government also put forward the goal of realizing a new type of industrialization and digital economy. China will “promote digital industrialization and industrial digitization” and “strengthen the construction of a digital society and digital government.”

These strategic measures have created new opportunities for the transformation and development of thousands of industries. While promoting various industries to improve production efficiency and competitiveness, they also put forward new requirements for technological development and collaboration.

Multi-domain collaboration is the foundation for successful digital transformation

Hunan Xiangtan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. is a high-quality steel production base of 10 million tons in southern my country, with an annual steel production scale of 12 million tons. The deployment of its 5G smart steel project shows us how digital technology can help the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries, and What are the new demands for technological development and collaboration in the process of transformation?

The typical working environment of a steel plant often means high temperature, high dust, and high risk. Long-term on-site work will affect employee morale and lead to low work efficiency. Such an environment also makes it difficult to deploy fixed communication networks, and prevents many production equipment from obtaining the necessary network connections. Xianggang’s production process can generate about 1 terabyte of data every day. If it has the necessary network connection, these data can be fully collected and analyzed, and the production process can be optimized in real time based on the analysis results. Therefore, Xianggang is eager to obtain advanced digital technology to flexibly connect all production equipment, conduct real-time data analysis, and improve working conditions and reduce production and operation costs through remote control of the production process.

In July 2019, Hunan Mobile cooperated with Huawei to start the deployment of a 5G smart steel project for Xiangtan Iron and Steel. Hunan Mobile has deployed a dedicated 5G network and a smart industrial Internet platform integrated with end-pipe cloud in the Xianggang plant, and provides annual service packages. It also provides Xianggang with commercial cloud services that integrate public and private clouds. As of September 2020, Hunan Mobile has deployed 152 5G base stations and edge computing platforms for Xianggang, achieving an uplink data rate of 450 Mbps and an end-to-end delay of 20 milliseconds, which strongly supports Xianggang’s digital transformation.

The advanced infrastructure provides strong support for Xianggang’s smart steel applications, such as:

Digital transformation, multi-domain collaboration will create new opportunities

Centralized remote control of overhead crane: Use eight-channel high-definition video stream to achieve precise real-time remote control

Unmanned crane in the slag loading area: through the integrated use of cameras, scanners, rangefinders and encoders, unmanned automatic control is realized.

Remote-controlled robotic arm in the steelmaking area
HD video surveillance in hazardous areas
Assembly of production line assisted by AR interaction
Real-time equipment monitoring and analysis for predictive maintenance.

Since its inception, the 5G smart steel project has brought significant economic benefits to Xiangtan Iron and Steel. According to domestic media reports, Xianggang’s “overall production efficiency has increased by 30%, and its labor productivity has increased from 920 tons of steel per person per year to the current 1,300 tons of steel per person per year, with annual direct economic benefits reaching hundreds of millions of yuan”.

The success of Xianggang’s 5G smart steel project demonstrates the importance of multi-domain technology collaboration. The realization of smart steel applications requires not only 5G network connections, but also cloud and smart technologies (such as edge cloud, machine vision, data analysis, etc.). At the same time, these ICT technologies need to be closely integrated with the factory’s operating technology (OT), which requires close cooperation between ICT experts and industry experts. For example, the remote control of the continuous casting slagging process requires the comprehensive use of 5G network connections, edge cloud-based data analysis, advanced sensors, and expertise in the metallurgical industry. The close collaboration of communication technology, information technology, industry knowledge and operation technology is essential for the successful implementation of smart steel projects, and such multi-domain technology collaboration is often complex and challenging.

Since the birth of modern manufacturing, information technology (IT), communication technology (CT) and operation technology (OT) have basically maintained their own independent development rhythms. Although IT and CT have merged to some extent and become a broad ICT technology focusing on data, information management and communication, OT technology is still relatively independent, focusing on industry operations and controlling physical equipment and production processes. The collaboration and integration of ICT and OT will bring challenges to hardware and software design, production and information processes, data security, and even organizational structure and corporate culture. This requires a cross-domain horizontal integrator to coordinate the independent development of technology fields in the ICT domain and the OT domain, and promote the extensive collaboration of connectivity, computing, cloud, AI, and industry applications, so as to achieve the technology and industry goals of integrated development.

Telecom operators get new development opportunities

The digital transformation of the industry provides excellent opportunities for telecom operators to expand their business. First, the digital transformation of the industry requires flexible, high-performance ICT infrastructure. As experts in communication connection services, operators can provide industry customers with connection solutions that meet specific needs, such as 5G networks that support large uplink bandwidth, end-to-end slicing, and high-precision positioning. Operators can also build edge computing infrastructure for industry customers. The synergy of edge computing infrastructure and communication infrastructure will lay a solid ICT technology foundation for the digital transformation of the industry.

On top of the infrastructure, industry customers need a unified platform for cloud-network integration in order to achieve reliable and flexible multi-cloud and hybrid cloud services and the deployment of smart applications. Through self-research or cooperation with professional companies, most leading operators already have the ability to provide cloud services. They can integrate cloud services with network connection solutions to provide industry customers with flexible and efficient cloud services and intelligent capabilities platforms.

The comprehensive digital transformation of the industry requires the organic integration of ICT and OT, strengthening cross-domain and horizontal collaboration, and opening up information islands. Telecom operators can make full use of their experience in managing complex networks and coordinating diversified suppliers, and fully cooperate with all parties in the industry chain to open up the end-to-end value chain, thereby becoming a cross-domain horizontal integrator and in the digital transformation ecosystem Play a central role.

In the process of changing the role from an infrastructure service provider to a capability platform provider to a cross-domain horizontal integrator, telecom operators are expected to occupy the upstream of the industrial value chain, gain a strong market position and expand market space.

Digital transformation, multi-domain collaboration will create new opportunities

Looking forward to 2030, the digital transformation of the industry will create huge business development opportunities for telecom operators. Multi-domain collaboration is the key to promoting the digital transformation of the industry, and its depth and breadth will determine the opportunity space for operators in the digital transformation market. Telecom operators need to strengthen cooperation, work together to promote multi-domain synergy, and achieve long-term healthy growth of the industry.

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