Today, the flagship project IC4F - Industrial Communication for Factories gets underway with the aim of developing secure, robust and real time-capable communications solutions for the manufacturing industry. Through mid-2020, 15 project partners from industry and research, one of them is T-Labs, intend to develop a technology toolkit for a reliable industrial communications and computing infrastructure, which is based on an open, cross-domain architecture, and supports modular add-ons for new applications and communications technologies.
The technology toolkit should enable users to select the right ICT technologies as per the new Industry 4.0 requirements and the specific migration approach. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) as part of the PAiCE program.
IC4F addresses the indispensable convergence of ICT and automation technologies for upcoming Industry 4.0 applications. A core element of the IC4F project therefore entails modeling a communications toolkit which is implemented as part of selected industrial application scenarios. The IC4F project will provide open, transparent and reliable communications and computing technologies along the lines of a lead project.
The IC4F flagship project is aimed especially at future Industry 4.0 use cases and will create a relevant communications reference architecture. The aim is to pursue a modular approach so that components can be assembled with maximum flexibility. Key technologies are used from the areas of 5G, multi-access edge computing (MEC), cloud computing, virtualization and industrial monitoring and analytics. The implementation requires a holistic analysis of the underlying infrastructure – a type of industrial Internet.
The industrial Internet - an important economic factor of Germany's competitiveness
Key government objectives include safeguarding and expanding Germany as a sophisticated production and innovation location as well as bringing production back to Germany. In tune with this approach, leading industrial enterprises from the fields of ICT and automation technology as well as leading research partners have joined the IC4F consortium. The toolkit is used for digitization in the manufacturing industry, skilled crafts and trades, and provides an introduction to the era of the fourth industrial revolution, Industrie 4.0. As such, the consortium aims to make a widespread impact and to support SMEs in particular.
Ongoing digitization means enterprises need to embrace rapid innovation and pioneering work as well as garnering expertise in setting up platforms and standards. This relates to future intelligent networks, networked cloud platforms as well as innovative services, which link digitized and traditional processes and, in turn, form the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution. The industrial Internet is thus becoming an important economic factor with a fundamental influence on the competitiveness of Germany, whose opportunities need to be safeguarded and extended.
The IC4F consortium partners with their wide range of expertise help ensure the initiative’s status as a lead project. By bundling the expertise of leading players, IC4F generates added value for the feasibility of ICT solutions and promotes in particular comprehensive, end-to-end integration of the demonstrators thanks to the composition of the consortium. The consortium as well as members of a broad user forum put forward representative and priority use scenarios.
The consortium is made up of the following partners: Heinrich Hertz Institute and Institute for Integrated Circuits of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Robert Bosch GmbH, Deutsche Telekom AG / T-Labs, Gesellschaft für Produktionssysteme GmbH, brown-iposs GmbH, MAG IAS GmbH, Nokia Solutions and Networks GmbH & Co KG, Alcatel-Lucent Deutschland AG, rt-solutions.de GmbH, Schindler Fenster + Fassaden GmbH, Siemens AG, STILL GmbH, Technische Universität Berlin, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Stuttgart. The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute is responsible for managing the consortium.
The contribution of T-Labs: Solutions for secure networking and control of machines
As part of IC4F, T-Labs design, develop and test solutions to securely interconnect existing and new industrial plant and equipment, to transfer data to cloud solutions reliably and securely, and to monitor and control machinery effectively. In this respect, the aim is to find suitable solutions for the respective industry and use-specific requirements, such as for reliable remote access, remote control and remote maintenance of existing mobile and stationary production plant. Various solutions, including dynamically launched virtualized gateways, network functions in the edge cloud, chipcard-based security anchors, are being implemented. Selected industrial use scenarios are then used to demonstrate and evaluate their potential.