PTC and Ericsson Partner for Smarter Wireless Manufacturing

Written By: Erik Josefsson
  • 6/27/2018
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Industrial IoT solutions are transforming manufacturing and processing around the world. Track-and-trace of hand-held tools, flexible operator workstations, material handling with Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), and drones for testing and surveillance—these wireless solutions are helping users overcome long-standing operational challenges. 

Today’s Industry 4.0 places new demands on communication infrastructure at sites such as factories and mines. To connect densely packed industrial sites and make IoT wireless innovations possible, a dedicated, private LTE cellular network is the most robust and reliable solution. 

Ericsson’s Smart Wireless Manufacturing offer leverages cellular to make it faster and easier for businesses to create value with IoT solutions. Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report predicts that the number of cellular IoT connections will reach 3.5 billion in 2023, increasing at a 30% annual growth rate.

The flexibility of cellular connectivity, along with its stable, simple and secure communication capabilities will serve as the foundation for the factory of the future. But businesses don’t need to start over from scratch to capture the benefits of Industrial IoT. Brownfield installations of cellular solutions can also significantly improve operational efficiency at existing industrial sites, bringing them into the connected ecosystem. 

Dedicated LTE networks for industrial sites guarantee exclusive connectivity, access and quality of service. Using licensed cellular radio spectrum, industrial sites can secure private wireless networks, impenetrable by other users, whereas unlicensed solutions like Wi-Fi lack handling of admission and authentication.

The risks associated with IoT are mitigated by private LTE, which enables low latency, high throughput, high-density deployments, wide coverage range and long battery life. Governed by strict service level agreements (SLAs), a private LTE network enables security and efficiency with prioritization of data streams, sources, storage and data processing, all of which can be customized for specific sites.

Robust connectivity is the cornerstone of Industry 4.0
Source: Acatech's Maturity Index study - six stages for a company’s readiness for Industrie 4.0

Beyond meeting demands on communication infrastructure, there is an equal need for speed and scalability in the application layer of IoT solutions. Ericsson and PTC have addressed this by enhancing Ericsson's IoT Accelerator cloud-based platform with features and functionalities from the ThingWorx Industrial Innovation Platform

This new partnership combines Ericsson's expertise in connectivity and device management, security and monetization with PTC's best-in-class application and AR-experience development tools. Manufacturing and process industries can use the advanced capabilities to easily build and launch compelling IoT applications and services.

The strengths of this partnership have already gained market recognition: “The Ericsson-PTC collaboration is very complementary given Ericsson’s strengths in handling connectivity at scale and PTC’s ThingWorx’s rapid application enablement platform,” said Kari Terho, Head of Smart Factory Management at Elisa Industrial IoT, a telecommunications, ICT and digital service company based in Finland.

The joint capabilities of Ericsson and PTC will drive new and continuous improvement for process quality, throughput, asset tracking and condition monitoring. The combined offering also opens up possibilities for disruptive innovations like collaborative swarm-robots, AGVs, digital-twins and augmented reality—which all need cellular connectivity to scale. A truly connected factory enables faster adoption of innovations and continuous operations improvement, thus increasing competitiveness.

“Industry 4.0 is happening at the same time as 5G is about to ramp up. The Ericsson and PTC collaboration will support rapid innovation in manufacturing. Together, we can make industrial sites wireless and enable full digitalization with rapid introduction of AR and other applications" says Jeff Travers, Head of IoT at Ericsson.

Example of pragmatic digital twin shown at IoT World 2018, Santa Clara
Smart factory powered by Ericsson IoT Acclerator and PTC's Vuforia software

“The benefits in the ecosystem of factory owners, machine makers and automation providers from the new Ericsson IoT Accelerator modules on the PTC Marketplace will be exciting to follow,” said Kent Eriksson, Senior Advisor IoT Transformations at PTC.

One of Ericsson's IoT Accelerator modules on PTC Marketplace

Learn More About ThingWorx

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  • Industrial Internet of Things

About the Author

Erik Josefsson

Erik drives global business development for IoT solutions at Ericsson. Part of that work includes responsibility for Industrial IoT & 5G offerings for the manufacturing and processing industries. He has held a variety of positions within Ericsson, including working in Silicon Valley where he lead Connected Car / IoT initiatives, and held responsibility for the Smart Sustainable Cities Alliance. Erik holds a MA in Business and Economics from University of Gothenburg, Singapore Management University and City University of Hong Kong.