Semiconductor Equipment

Solving communications interference issues for smart factories

31 March 2021
Industrial use cases for network scanners, like the TSMx device pictured here, include real-time sensing of interference. Source: Rohde & Schwarz

Successful industrial network integration of smart factory building blocks such as mobile robots and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) requires highly reliable, low latency communications. Enhancements for 5G New Radio (5G NR) in 3GPP specifications have enabled ultra-reliable low latency communications — also known as URLLC — yet in any wireless system, the communication link on deployed spectrum bands is subject to potential interference.

The Industrial Radio Lab (IRL) Dresden is a leading research institute working to solve that problem. As one of four regional labs of the Industrial Radio Lab Germany (IRLG) engaging in research and development of wireless technologies in industry, it maintains a particular focus on mitigating interference and improving network resilience. In this effort, it has turned to 5G NR test solutions provider Rohde & Schwarz for its portable test equipment designed to assess network performance in the field.

“By partnering with a leading research institute like the IRL Dresden we not only support fundamental research, but (we) gain first-hand insights that we can use to adapt our leading mobile network testing solutions for Industry 4.0,” explained Anne Stephan, the company’s vice president for mobile network testing. Rohde & Schwarz has provided its high-performance network scanners for distributed real-time radio spectrum and interference monitoring, allowing the Dresden researchers to gather data on detecting, locating and preventing interference and on keeping a local spectrum band clear for reliable wireless connectivity.

“The capabilities to cope with predictable as well as unpredictable disturbances, and to provide appropriate self-optimization and self-healing mechanisms are still insufficient,” explained Dr. Norman Franchi, project lead at IRL Dresden. “The goal of the cooperation (with Rohde & Schwarz) is to analyze and evaluate the requirements on the measurement sensors and network, and to derive which real-time performance can be achieved.”

Of course, Rohde & Schwarz’s testing solutions for smart factories are not limited to researchers like the IRLG. The company’s TSMx product family of network scanners passively capture data from the air interface, offering a pure and accurate view of RF performance. Additional features and benefits of TSMx include:

  • Future proofing: TSMx6 can be field upgraded to upcoming 5G NR sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave measurements
  • Automatic channel detection (ACD): TSMx automatically detects active all channels in a specified band
  • Position estimation: Rohde & Schwarz ROMES software can use measurement and GPS data delivered by TSMx to estimate the geographic position of base transceiver stations
  • Support for dynamic spectrum sharing between 5G NR and LTE
  • Network synchronization measurements
  • Time-alignment error (TAE) measurements
  • Electromagnetic field strength (EMF) measurements
  • Support for NB-IoT/Cat NB1 and LTE-M/Cat M1 standards
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