On this IoT For All podcast episode, Gerardo Giaretta, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm, defines industry 4.0 and addresses how 5G will influence trajectory of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Gerardo explains the biggest impacts 5G will have on IIoT and details his current focus on factories and how they benefit from deploying cellular connectivity networks. He notes that cellular connectivity may not always be the best choice for an IoT deployment and provides advice for overcoming the fear of transitioning from a wired to wireless factory environment.
The episode concludes with advice for companies and individuals involved in developing digital transformation strategies. Finally, Gerardo looks to the future and shares what he thinks 6G will look like.
About Qualcomm: Qualcomm invents breakthrough technologies that transform how the world connects, computes and communicates. Qualcomm is an R&D engine and their foundational technologies have powered the smartphone revolution and connected billions of people for over 30 years.
Key Question and Topics from this Episode:
(3:57) What does Industry 4.0 mean?
(7:22) What are the biggest impacts of 5G on IIoT?
(11:03) What role do governments play in cellular connectivity regulations?
(13:16) What are the benefits of a factory deploying a private cellular connectivity network?
(17:50) Reasons why cellular connectivity is not the best choice for an IoT deployment.
(20:26) How will the 5G roll-out be handled in rural areas?
(23:44) What impact will 5G have on the IoT space?
(27:49) How do you overcome the fear of transitioning from wired to wireless in a factory setting?
(30:10) What do companies and individuals involved in their company’s digital transformation strategy need to know to stay on top of changes that are happening?
(31:10) Where can people go to be educated on 5G and what advice do you have for those who may be hesitant to deploy 5G solutions?
(37:11) What will 6G look like?
– [Ken] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the IoT For All podcast on the IoT For All Media Network. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon, one of the co-creators of IoT For All. Now, before we jump into this episode, please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or join our newsletter https://iotforall.com/newsletter to catch all the newest episodes as soon as they come out. So without further ado please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All podcast. Welcome Gerardo to the IoT For All show. How’s your week going so far.
– [Gerardo] Very good. Thanks for having me.
– [Ryan] Yeah, we’re happy you’re here. I am joined today by Shannon Lee as my cohost.
– [Shannon] Hello.
– [Ryan] So Gerardo I think the best way to start this would be to take a few seconds here to introduce yourself to the audience before… When they’re hearing this I’ll actually have done an intro to give them a little background, but I think it’s great to have them hear this through your own words.
– [Gerardo] Sure, sure. Thanks. So I’m a Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm. Where I focus on IoT and specifically on 5G and IoT. So I’m looking at how the industry will evolve in particular in the manufacturing space, how it will evolve with Industry 4.0 the zero towards 5G. What are the opportunities to make 5G the good technology choice for those environments.
– [Ryan] And what does Industry 4.0 mean exactly?
– [Gerardo] Yeah, so I mean, usually, the term started in Germany and it’s really relates to all the aspects of this digital transformation that is happening in manufacturing and being in industries in general. So all aspects are related to more data, more insights from data, improving productivity from data that can be collected from different parts of the factory on different sensors. So these terms Industry 4.0 is somehow or 4.0 encompass all these Applications where data becomes a key aspect of the manufacturing process and productivity.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. And how does Qualcomm kind of play into Industry 4.0 and at a high level just talk a little bit more about what the company does and focuses on.
– [Gerardo] Yeah, of course Qualcomm has been inventing technology for three decades. So in particular, on cellular with CDMA 4G and now with 5G, with specific aspects of Industry 4.0 and IoT what we are doing is taking the technologies that’s initially are developed for the commercial’s smart phone Applications and apply them to these additional ecosystem and environment like the industrial one and understand how they can help improving the customer experience on the industrial space. What additional functionality may be needed. And so how, and in this particular case with 5G that we can discuss later, how 5G needs to evolve maybe a little bit differently for the industrial Applications compared to the commercial but that’s what Qualcomm is focusing in general as we let technology, provider and technology inventor on this.
– [Ryan] Okay from a vertical perspective, do you guys really focus on more industrial type applications of verticals or are you guys kind of across the board?
– [Gerardo] So the main product for Qualcomm is chips at Qualcomm is mostly a Silicon company, right? So we develop chips and these chips that can be used in many different Applications. So it’s not that we focus only on the industrial. My role is specifically only industrial. So that’s my focus. But from a Qualcomm perspective, I think we enable several IoT Applications from cellular IoT in sensors to cameras, consumer cameras, enterprise cameras, to any of the industrial Applications that I was referring to earlier.
– [Ryan] Very cool. Okay. That’s great. It’s a good overview of kinda what you guys are doing and what you’re focusing on now, before we started this Shannon mentioned to me that last week you were a keynote speaker at the sensors expo? Basically the industry’s largest event dedicated to sensors connectivity and IoT. We’d love to have you kinda share a little bit more about or I guess just anything in general about what you spoke about as the keynote speaker including the biggest impacts of 5G on industrial IoT since 5G is kind of this big deal that’s happening and how it kind of impacts that side of the IoT world.
– [Gerardo] Sure. So the keynote was specifically on 5G and how 5G will contribute to IoT. And I was making the particular point on what we usually refer to 5G private networks. So that’s a pretty new concept compared to how networks have been deployed in the past. So I think it’s probably the most interesting one beside the technical details of 5G right? So if you look at how cellular networks have been traditionally deployed or there have been deployed with a big mobile network operator deploying nation wide networks for consumers. So big, big investment in terms of spectrum as well, because in order to have a cellular network corporation you need to have a spectrum license. So to use certain radio waves so that you are allowed entitled to use from the regulator, right? So that’s how traditionally network have been deployed. Now with a little bit with 4G, but in particular with 5G we are seeing a movement towards what we refer to private networks. So the idea that a venue owner or a factory owner could deploy its own network entirely within the premises of the factory, for example and own end to end the network. And there are several reasons why factory owners may want to do that. One reason is, having full control of the resources, right? If you have your own network then you don’t have to care about additional people around the factory or additional interference that there may be from traffic generated by other people. The second reason is privacy and security. So if you have the network within the factory then all your data stays within the factory, right? So there is a strong interest in that. And there are various in particular when I was covering the keynote is that there are various technology enablers that make that possible and some of them are technical, but then there is a broader aspect which is extremely interesting which is happening with the United States and Germany actually to be at the forefront of that which is the regulator now has started to look at licensing spectrum on a local basis, right? And this is the concept of the CBRS band in the United States, or what is called usually the Compost Network Band in Germany. The concept is very, very simple. And the idea is that now you don’t need anymore to be a nation wide operator to own the spectrum in a given area. You can be a factory owner and you can request the regulator. I would like to run a 5G private network within this area. And this is exactly in the map of the area where I need a license. And at that point the regulator can provide a license to the spectrum. And then the factory owner can run the network completely by himself, without depending on mobile network operator. And this, we think that this will drive a lot innovation on various front of how 5G will be able to be using industrial space.
– [Ryan] Can you, go ahead Shannon.
– [Shannon] I was trying to say, will the government be regulating that? Or how would that work?
– [Gerardo] It differs depending on the jurisdiction and somehow the country in general there is the concept of a local license. So there is the government or the agency of the government. So in the case, the FCC, for example, in North America, in United States and that’s where there is a process for the private player to ask for a license in a given area. Of course, the way these networks are deployed is a little bit different in the sense that if you have licensed in a given area you have to make sure that your devices and your network equipment transmit only within that area without interfering externally. So there are very strict rules of how these can be deployed but yeah, usually it’s basically the government agency that provide these license. It’s very important because if you are a factory owner now you never own the spectrum. You always own the license to the spectrum but it is very different to say, I’m gonna lease this pack tool from a mobile network operator. And maybe, I don’t know the mobile network operator then changes the term or make me pay too much and so forth. So I’m not really ready to invest on a full network operation for my factory while now the factory owner can say, okay I have a 20 year license or 25 year license for using 5G in my factory. So I can really invest and make 5G my technology of choice for the next 20 years for productivity aspect.
– [Ryan] Yeah. That’s really interesting ’cause we’ve seen that happen like with LoRa and other types of connectivity options. So seeing that happen now with cellular is really interesting. So can you kind of shed a little bit more light on the benefits and the value of a factory going this route over maybe other connectivity options. I know you talked about security and you talked about kind of limiting interference by doing this on premises. What are some other benefits to a factory owner, kinda going down this path versus maybe some other paths they could take.
– [Gerardo] Yeah, sure. So, first of all right, why do you need wireless at all? I think that’s a key question, right? Because a lot of factories right now, they still have a lot of presence of wired conductivity ethernet or what is called industrial ethernet usually, right? So there are two trends that really justify the use of wireless in the factory. One trend is the, what I refer to as the digital transformation earlier. So the idea that you need more and more data for more and more sensors and machines around the factory. The other aspect is what is an aspect that is usually referred to the factory of the future of factory re configurability. So a lot of these industrial players are looking on much more agile and flexible way to configure the factory with the the factory floor that can be reconfigured in a matter of hours or one day. While now we may takes weeks to that. So if you couple the need to suck more data from everything that is in the factory with the need of moving things around then automatically you need wireless and wired connectivity is not good anymore. It’s not sufficient anymore, right? So then why 5G? I think 5G is cellular in general. 5G in particular because 5G has really been focusing on these Applications, provides various advantages. One is the user license spectrum, right? With this private spectrum, so that we have a lot of experience that we talk with our customers and partner have Applications where you have Wifi or any of other, these unlicensed technology. And it’s very difficult because if somebody has an Apple watch that is using wifi as well, right? So you need a very, very confined rules in terms of who is bringing a smartphone, who is bringing a watch inside the factory. And then it’s very difficult to regulate that. And then just, the presence of these additional devices can have repercussion on the overall factory operation. So that’s one aspect just the fact that cellular user license spectrum. The other aspect is mobility. So when you look at many of these factories, I mean there are some amazing videos on YouTube, on all these AGVs and the roll bolts moving around and doing various tasks within the factory. And there are many tens of hundreds of them within a factory then you put a lot of pressure on the network in term of number of handovers that happened within the network. So how many times do you change a base station or wireless LAN access point, right? And while you increase the amount of traffic and amount of devices with moving objects, that is where wifi starts to have problem from a performance perspective. Instead of course, from a cellular connectivity perspective that is why the cellular network has been defined from the beginning as for mobile use right? So that’s another big advantage of that. And third is security. I think there’s definitely a strong level of security in the cellular ecosystem than there is in the wifi ecosystem. And that plays plays a big role. I would add another one, which is going a little bit more technical, but I’ll keep it brief. There is as part of 5G, there is this new technology called URLLC that stands for ultra reliable low latency communication, which is the first time that the idea that the wireless communication can achieve the famous six, nine reliability, right? So there are various techniques that are used by, 5G where you can achieve this reliability. So now you can really replace wires with wireless because you are sure that these performance can be achieved.
– [Ryan] Very cool. So we’ve talked about a lot of the benefits of using cellular connectivity in this kind of space. What about drawbacks? What would… Are there anything that let’s say a factory owner is looking at different connectivity options on reasons cellular may not be the right choice?
– [Gerardo] I think it’s about the, the fact that the ecosystem is new, right? So if you ask me, can a factory owner deploy 5G for all it’s Applications as I described right now the answer is likely not, right? I mean, 5G has being just launched for a commercial, smartphone space a few months back a couple months back. So you probably have seen all these various speed tests, your Twitter feed. So that is where the technology will start on the consumer space. And then it takes some time to then mature and be optimized for an industrial Applications. So we can probably, there are a few things that can be done right now but most of the work that we’re doing with our partner right now is more proof of concepts and trying to analyze really how do you deploy this network in a factory, right? And so it’s not officially ready for prime time deployment right now, right? It may take one year or a little bit more than one year, for example one work very interesting that we are doing with Bosch and it’s a collaboration between Qualcomm and Bosch, which we announced at the last Mobile World Congress is that we are doing various R and D effort together. And one of them is looking on cellular propagation within a factory. So we are literally going inside Bosch, real factory. And together we are trying to understand how cellular network can be deployed and how airwaves can propagate within a factory because it’s a very, tricky environment in term of how much metal there is, how much obstruction there may be and so forth. So there is this learning curve that as an ecosystem we need to go through and that’s why as Qualcomm we are partnering with industrial leaders because we don’t have that expertise or they don’t have the wireless expertise. So the two together, we think we can take a crack at this.
– [Shannon] I’m curious with, a lot of factories are located in rural areas and geography has a huge impact on cellular conductivity. And currently 5G is being strategically deployed in different locations. And most of those are larger cities. So do you think that factories would be one of the last places for 5G to be rolled out?
– [Gerardo] Actually, no, because that’s exactly one very good point of why you may want 5G any particular private network right? So it really depends on what are the Applications from the factory. But if the Applications is that majority of the data stays within the factory, right? And they’re not much data that needs to go to the cloud, then the best solution is you build your own network within the factory. You don’t depend on the coverage provided by the operator, in that particular area and you have probably some form of back-haul which can be 4G or whatever for that little data that needs to go to the cloud, right? So we can say, it’s still gonna be spotty, right? In this private network, I’m not suggesting that we’re gonna have rural coverage but within rural area where there are a lot of factories, then there may be spots of 5G coverage not AT&T or Verizon 5G coverage, but actually factory owner’s 5G coverage, because then it’s the best way for them to guarantee connectivity within the factory.
– [Shannon] And I think that’s a really good point to make because it’s important for the media to really understand what 5G can do. And we’re really focused on T-Mobile and AT&T and Verizon, but from what you’re saying, private networks will be very advantageous and super useful for places like factories that are in rural areas.
– [Gerardo] Absolutely so there is and I don’t want to realize this, of course, 5G brings even for consumer and mobile network operator brings a lot of advantages and a lot of new technology aspects, for example millimeter wave and so forth. But there is definitely that is a little bit more like business as usual, right? Where you had 4G with smartphone now you have 5G with smartphone of course, much better latency, much higher throughput probably enabling new Applications, but we’re still talking about the same market, the same industry, right? Instead when we talk about private network industrial it’s really a place where cellular connectivity has really not played that role so far. And in general wireless connectivity has played very little role as well. Because if you look at how much wireless LAN is deployed in factories, for factory operation is actually very little, right? So that’s really where we see the potential of 5G becoming a game changer, right? Enabling really, really new Applications. And to be honest, the most exciting part for me and that’s why I’m working this area because it’s really the new paradigm. If you want to compare to the traditional smart phone one.
– [Ryan] So what do you, I guess, taking a quick step back to explain to our audience 5G versus let’s say 4G what are the biggest differences that we can expect as we keep increasing four to five, eventually six in the technology and the impact that you think it’s going to have overall on the IoT space.
– [Gerardo] So in general, on the technology, right? So 5G is always, when you move from 1G to the other there is a technology change and that gives you a step function of improvements, right? Usually. So what is already noticeable right now is 5G is providing even for smartphone operations higher throughput and significantly throughput and low latency, lower latency than 4G. The thing that in particular is interesting about 5G and particularly North America is that 5G is the first time that is deployed in the millimeter wave spectrum. So you have a very very high consume like 28 gigahertz and 39 gigahertz, that’s really where AT&T and Verizon have been deploying the technology right now. And that opens up interesting aspects of our networks get deployed because then automatically high-frequency means lower outdoor to indoor penetration, of course at least a little bit less coverage. So you need to really deploy the network in a different way form an economic point of view. In term of many small cells, so many fewer macro cells. So there are, it’s not only about the technology itself. It’s also about the repercussion that the technology has of how network gets deployed. So that’s in general about 5G versus 4G then in the specific aspect of IoT is what I was referring earlier, in particular these also ultra reliability, low latency, are game changers that will enable the use of wireless and cellular in particular really to replace wires in critical operations, right? So right now you have a robotic car in a factory for example. The robotic car in a factory is there are a lot of industrial protocols and application layers that are used for that. And they are built on the premises that there is no more than a one millisecond latency between when a command is sent to the remote to when the remote can react to that command, right? And so there has never been a cellular technology or wireless technology for the mother that with good reliability can achieve that. Now instead you can do that with 5G, or you will be able to do that with 5G in the next one or two years. And then what does it mean? Automatically it means that the robot can be much more free to move around because it doesn’t have to be a cable connected to it, right? And then the repercussion of that, to the whole factory floor set up and factory productivity is gonna be very, very interesting.
– [Ryan] See in theory, all this sounds wonderful, but in practice I’m curious to see how factory owners are in actually making that switch from wired to wireless because of reliability and the time and the cost that it takes to make that switch is probably a pretty big one to where it’s kinda hard, might be hard to go back. And I wonder from a critic from a I don’t wanna say mission critical is the wrong word, but from depending on how critical the machinery is, or the process is, I’d be curious, at what point are factory owners cautious or a little bit too scared to make that switch because wireless in their head is still something that maybe is not as reliable as a wired connection. Do you have any kinda thoughts on on that or how, whether it’s educational resources or just the evolution of the technology will kind of combat that mindset and help hopefully change that idea so that people feel more secure in making that transition?
– [Gerardo] I think it’s all of that. I think it’s a great point and I agree that there are these challenges, right? It’s the industrial space is very slow in adopting new technology. Not because they are lazy or anything like that, but because the last thing that you want is to stop the factory for production, right? It’s automatic, a lot of money that get lost. So I think it’s a little bit educational. It’s a little bit also of us and an ecosystem Qualcomm with all the partners that we’re working on, to really understand how far the technology can go, right? Doing proof of concept, trials, maybe small deployments at the beginning, where you adopt the technology not for all the Applications, but for a subset of Applications. And then little by little, gaining, trust in the technology and understanding how far that technology can go, right? We have done already internally a lot of R and D, and it’s very, very promising but you never know until you go in the actual field then you go in the actual factory. So that’s why I was saying earlier, right? There’s other 5Gs already now or you can buy equipment, you put it there and everything will work. And you will replace all your wires as a factory owner. That’s not the case. So it will take a time and effort. And as I said, we are working with various partners. Some that is gonna be both an aspect of us, industry and wireless players learning and then after that, on the educational aspects as well because that will be fundamental when you start having successful customer Applications then that’s probably, when you start moving the needle in term of all many deployments, there will be right?
– [Shannon] As Ryan mentioned, the promise of 5G is big. You have high wireless bandwidth high availability and nonexistent latency. That’s going to change the wireless strategy of the C-suite and network architects. So now that 5G is real and companies are starting to roll it out, what do those of us who are in the digital transformation or should be in the digital transformation need to know to stay on top of it, or is it too late for them to really start with the proof of concept?
– [Gerardo] No no it’s absolutely not too late in particular in the IoT space, right? I think 5G has being launched commercially now for smartphone, more or less all around the world or is it gonna be launched more or less around the world by the end of the year, but these are early launches. And as I said, deploying the technology nationwide or in a downtown area for smartphone Applications versus deploying that technology in an oil rig or in a factory or in a mine, it can be, they’re very, very different. And so there is a lot of learning, a lot of things that needs to be done there still. And absolutely there is no nobody’s late yet, right? Absolutely.
– [Ryan] Yeah. I’m very curious to see how this kind of transforms over the next year or so, just because again deploying 5G in a downtown area is great. And everybody who has a cell phone is going to see the benefit or wireless device is gonna see the benefit. But once you start really tying it into business and money and processes, that could be slowed down if wireless stops, or it gets too congested, or it just kind of causes a little bit of problems regardless of how powerful it is or how strong it is, I wonder if that’s still gonna be a thing that kind of causes people to be hesitant. So from your opinion, it kind of ties on the Shannon’s last question, which is where can people go to kinda be educated on this? Or what kind of advice do you have for people out there who are optimistic about 5G, but still also quite hesitant on deploying it in some kind of business critical solution. And obviously now they’re kinda being introduced to the on premises deployment, as you mentioned today, but what kind of advice would you have for people who are kind of on that fence of unsure of if this is the path they should go?
– [Gerardo] I think it’s, so two things. One thing is there are already, eh deployment of LTE in some private environment. It may not be as challenging as 5G low-latency communication but there are a lot of warehouses where LTE is used. And there are a lot of mines where for example LTE is used for communication. And so that’s one data point that people can start learning on how other players have started using cellular technology for those particular Applications, right? As proof points and more or less every website of wireless players being us or the infrastructure vendor or our competitors have customer Applications that point to that. In the context of 5G, it’s about following the technology, following the proof of concept, we will keep, trying to be very vocal in the media about this, about the progress that we make in this area, because I think it’s extremely important as you said that that even medium enterprises that may not have the power right now to engage with Qualcomm or Ericsson in our proof of concept, trial in the next six months of the next year, it’s important that they understand what the technology can provide, right? And so that’s a little bit of a role that we also as Qualcomm think that we have and we’ll keep publishing. We have already published in our website where to be that we’ll keep publishing customer Applications or outcome of various trials that we do.
– [Ryan] Very cool. Do you have any Applications that you may be able to kinda talk a little bit to recently that were deployed 5G that were successful?
– [Gerardo] So 5G in the IoT, no, because as I said, it’s not time yet. I think that there is a couple of Applications that I can mention there is, without making names because I don’t know public they are. There is one big mining operation in Australia where they basically now use LTE in all their mines and they use LTE for sensors. They use LTE of course for the workers, the personnel that works there and these are private LTE. So they have a spectrum that is leased from an operator. And basically they own that particular spectrum and they’re deployed, of course mines are remote area and they deployed networks for that. So that’s, again, it’s more monitoring usual communication is not Right? But it’s definitely a Applications where LTE has been deployed. That’s one, the other one that I think I mentioned it earlier, there are quite a few of warehouses operation logistic players where they use LTE because they have this big campus where they have, a lot of somehow warehouses where they have all the boxes and so forth and then they have trucks coming in and going out. And so you need a mix of indoor and outdoor connectivity which with wifi extremely challenging to do. And so that’s where they use LTE either in a private fashion or in collaboration with an operator to operate cellular for their basic operation. Again, you may not be ultra reliable Applications, but it’s definitely a Applications that we can see right now already.
– [Ryan] Okay. Awesome. Shannon, do you have any other questions before we kinda wrap up here? I guess one question I do have just out of curiosity, I mean, how long so 5G is kind of, is the big thing now what do you expect if you can even guess this is I don’t know if this is possible, when we get to 6G, we kinda add another G there what do you kinda think we will see? Or what will that be like? My people have mentioned it in conversations, but we’re still just kind of on the, brink of 5G, kinda get really getting out there. So already thinking way ahead to 6G what are your thoughts on that?
– [Gerardo] Yeah, I think it’s very very early to say anything about 6G. I think we–
– [Shannon] You should turn off the media.
– [Gerardo] Yeah. So now because even 5G right, as we discussed, there are different phases of 5G itself, right? And will impact so many industries, some of them slow moving. So I think it will we will be busy with 5G for a long time at least for now.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I agree with you. So I guess not really, only two in depth questions left. Are you speaking at any more events any more keynotes coming up?
– [Gerardo] Not right now. Not right now. I think I have to check my calendar but I don’t think in the next two months
– [Ryan] I’m sure they take a lot of work you’re ready for, so. But we do appreciate you being on. If anybody listening to the show has questions or follow-ups regarding anything we talked about, what’s the best way to connect with you, if that’s an option or is there somewhere you’d like to kinda send them?
– [Gerardo] Sure. I mean, you can find me on LinkedIn on Twitter I mean, it’s just my name and you can reach me out there.
– [Ryan] Awesome. Well, again, we appreciate your time. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk about cellular connectivity. It’s very fascinating to learn about the private 5G networks, something that, you don’t really get much exposure to if you just read normal media coverage. So it’s kinda nice to have someone on the inside a little bit, talk more about that because I think it will help hopefully ease any any fears people have of this, of how to use 5G in industries or just in any kind of practical business application to be able to take advantage of the benefits of it without worrying about any fears of, congestion or issues by insecurity issues by having to be, outside of a private network. So it’s actually fascinating. We appreciate you sharing all that and, yeah. Thanks again.
– [Gerardo] Thanks, it was a great time. Thank you very much
– [Ryan] All right everyone. Thanks again for joining us this week on the IoT For All podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please leave us a rating or review and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on whichever platform you’re listening to us on. Also, if you have a guest you’d like to see on the show, please drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll do everything we can to get them as a featured guest. Other than that, thanks again for listening. And we’ll see you next time.