The industrial ecosystem is advancing at an incredible pace – rapid technology development and adoption cycles present massive opportunities for greater operational efficiency and productivity.

By Kelly Switt, senior director intelligent edge global business development lead at Red Hat

But to pull this off, manufacturers need advanced connectivity that neither on-site cabling or ethernet can provide. Enter private 5G. Private 5G systems offer unified network function and application connectivity closer to end users, thanks to virtualised and cloud-native radio access networks (RAN) and 5G core (5GC) implementations linked by open standards-based interfaces.

Private 5G can deliver the low latency, high data throughput, extended coverage, increased reliability, privacy and security footprint that manufacturers need. When delivered using an extensible cloud-native application platform, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (AI/ML) capabilities can be infused into applications and operations that will transform every aspect of a business.

Private 5G is not a static technology, however; it will need to grow, expand, and shift in new directions as business needs evolve. Use cases that expand data centers, enable hybrid and multicloud strategies, the industrial edge, smart-cities and more continue to evolve.

To address this challenge, Red Hat and Intel have collaborated to create a cloud and edge-native private 5G solution for industrial and cross vertical deployments that is cost-effective and easier to adopt. This enables manufacturers to more readily capitalise on the revenue opportunity presented by AI-enabled software-defined operations and factories.

This reference solution is composed of Intel FlexRAN software delivering private wireless on the recently-launched Intel Edge Platform and Red Hat OpenShift. This trusted solution can be expanded or customised using third-party innovations from both companies’ partner ecosystems.

Collaborating with Intel’s Edge Platform on this private wireless solution and working with our ecosystem of partners, Red Hat creates validated and certified solutions for service providers to build on Red Hat platforms and technologies to achieve their business outcomes. The solution is also developer-friendly without sacrificing high-end compute performance for AI applications and workloads.

Red Hat OpenShift provides a unified cloud-native platform for private 5G workloads. OpenShift is extensible, providing connectivity and applications with a flexible architecture that can be reassembled in a much smaller form factor to produce an enterprise private wireless network to an edge device.

So what does this look like? When deployed, a private 5G network can provide the connectivity, tools and applications necessary to infuse AI on the factory floor by running on a modernised, automated, scalable and manageable cloud-native platform with enhanced security capabilities. Use cases can include: predictive maintenance, mobile sensors for data extraction, AI connected devices with increased agility and more.

For instance, Minsait, an Indra company, has taken the joint solution from Red Hat and Intel to market and has already seen the benefits in multiple edge- and AI-enabled use cases including:

* Wind farm wildlife and fire detection: helps wildlife protection in wind farms while significantly reducing operating costs. Through AI, it can detect protected birds and make real-time decisions to avoid collisions. Another feature includes the early and reliable detection of wildfires or nearby incidents through artificial vision.

* Logistics and asset management with indoor drones: this has allowed for a new logistics and asset management system that is connected, flexible and versatile. Based on the implementation of a new industrial drone, this system is intelligent and capable of working collaboratively in an indoor environment, safely alongside humans. This system provides asset search, inventory management and traceability, with the capability to scale with new features. This solution can also enable a fleet of intelligent mobile devices to operate continuously and autonomously with no action required from the system operator.

* Oil spill response management: the deployment of private 5G in oil refineries or on offshore platforms and ports helps provide better maintenance for these remote facilities, helping provide security capabilities in critical infrastructures aided by cameras and AI algorithms that can be supported by drones or robots. It can also help detect oil spills at port entry using intelligent algorithms and data collection from sensors, radar and infrared cameras deployed along the port area reducing possible hazards or accidents.