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Team Simultaneously Manages Facilities More Than 6,000 Miles Apart

Smart factories in Korea and Finland were controlled remotely.

A researcher of the ETRI is controlling a mobile robot by using 5G technology in smart factory.
A researcher of the ETRI is controlling a mobile robot by using 5G technology in smart factory.

A research team of the ETRI has revealed a technology which can remotely control one factory simultaneously from home and abroad using 5G technology developed through international joint research and an intercontinental wired network.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) announced that it has succeeded in demonstrating the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT1)) service which controls and monitors smart factory facilities and robots in real-time at home and abroad at the same time.

The core of successfully demonstrating the technology is ultra-low latency communication technology. The communication delay between a distance of over 10,000 km (about 6,200 miles) is less than 0.3 seconds. It has been demonstrated that factory facilities in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do can be controlled in real-time seamlessly from the University of Oulu in Finland.

A smart factory refers to an intelligent factory which increases productivity and reduces defect rates to enhance industrial competitiveness by applying information and communication technology (ICT) to the entire manufacturing process. The core is controlling various processes remotely while automating tasks using robots.

To prevent damage due to communication errors, communication delay and data loss should be minimized, although data transmission rate is also important. The longer the communication distance and the more complex the communication network, the higher the delay and data loss. In this case, the communication technology of low latency and high reliability is required.

Based on this technology, ETRI has connected the smart factory of the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, located in Hayang-eup, Gyeongsan-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, to Oulu University using the 5G test network of Oulu University in Finland and the domestic test network (KOREN2))

This demonstration introduced a new remote manufacturing diversification service which controls one factory at home and abroad independently. It is the world’s first attempt to enhance the service scope and availability of smart factories.

A picture that a research team of ETRI are real-time monitoring a process situation.A picture that a research team of ETRI are real-time monitoring a process situation.ETRI.

The ETRI control center introduced â–˛the operation of the remote Manufacturing Execution System (MES3)) and its order, â–˛real-time facility control and status-monitoring service through the remote SCADA4) control panel, etc.

In the Oulu control center, the followings are demonstrated: â–˛remote controlling and status monitoring of mobile manufacturing robots â–˛controlling remote manufacturing process using the virtual reality (VR) equipment â–˛monitoring the remote manufacturing process through collecting wireless sensor data based on the narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT).

Especially, it has significant meaning as it succeeded in demonstrating real-time remote control and monitoring service of the two-way delay of less than 0.01 seconds in Korea and less than 0.3 seconds abroad.

With this demonstration, the sharing and cooperation between countries in the manufacturing and production fields are expected to be boosted while increasing the possibility of remote smart manufacturing services based on stable communication quality. It is because controlling the opposite side of the earth is getting easier without visiting the physical site.

As it is possible to effectively utilize idle equipment in each industry through remote control, it is expected to gain momentum in global resource management and SME's industrial competitiveness.

Il-gyu Kim, head of the Mobile Communications Research Division of ETRI, said, “As it became possible to remotely control smart factories even from abroad as well as in Korea, we now can meet the demand for non-face-to-face activities in the industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemics. Therefore, it is expected to revitalize the stagnant industry.”

In the future, the research team plans to perform follow-up research to ensure connectivity and mobility and to implement hyperspatial services.

Also, it plans to work on designing future factories equipped with 6G through continuous cooperation with the 6G flagship program conducted by the University of Oulu.

1) IIoT : Industrial Internet of Things

2) KOREN : Korea Advanced Research Network

3) MES : Manufacturing Execution System

4) SCADA :Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition

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