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April 2021 News

Contributing Editor Annie Turner rounds up April’s automation highlights.

Automation everywhere: cranes, RAN and business processes

Nokia and Edzcom are to jointly deliver a 5G standalone (SA) private wireless network for Konecranes at its Hyvinkää smart factory in Finland. Edzcom will deploy a private wireless and application platform based on the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC).

The DAC comprises network and user equipment, a cloud-based operation monitoring system and industrial connectors to ease the connection of standard and industry-specific protocols. It has an applications catalogue that integrates ruggedised routers, handhelds and other wireless devices.

Edzcom is experienced in designing, building, and operating private wireless network solutions and claims to be the European market leader in edge connectivity solutions.

The 5G network will enable Konecranes to research and develop digitalised factory and port solutions leveraging high bandwidth and low latency to increase productivity, and improve efficiency and safety.

The 5G network will support trials across Konecranes’ Hyvinkää operations, incorporating its smart factory, research and development facilities, and test cranes. One use case example is the deployment of high-resolution wireless cameras to improve load-handling safety, site security and operational integrity.

Stephan Litjens, Vice President Enterprise Solutions, Nokia Cloud and Network Services, said, “Konecranes has been at the forefront of private wireless, introducing private LTE with Nokia and Edzcom four years ago to develop innovative solutions for its Lifting Businesses. By now deploying 5G to explore and develop its potential in factories and ports, Konecranes underscores its pioneering position in leveraging digitalization to enhance productivity and safety.”

VMWare expands into the RAN, & extends the benefits of network disaggregation and virtualisation from the core to the RAN.

VMware Telco Cloud Platform enables network operators to deploy and run virtualised network functions (VNFs) and containerised network functions (CNFs) across 5G networks. The company says the extended platform helps CSPs virtualise RAN functions with support for the Intel FlexRAN software reference architecture.

The company claims this platform supports the evolution from RAN to virtualized RAN (vRAN) then O-RAN – without disrupting CSPs’ operations or having to overhaul network design, as shown below.

DISH signed a contract with VMWare last July to build “the most advanced, automated, end-to-end 5G network in the US”. Marc Rouanne, Executive VP and Chief Network Officer at DISH, said about the extended platform, “Our entire 5G network will be cloud-native, and we will leverage the VMware Telco Cloud Platform to adopt an O-RAN architecture for all RAN sites.

“We are working with the best hardware and software providers and VMware is helping us achieve this vision. We believe this path will enable us to deliver amazing experiences and services to our customers faster and more efficiently.”

Daryl Schoolar, Practice Leader, Fixed and Mobile Infrastructure at Omdia, said, “The transformation of the RAN will significantly change how operators purchase, construct, and maintain their mobile networks. It presents a significant economic opportunity and will allow for the introduction of new capabilities and expand the pool of solution providers.

We forecast the convergence of openness and virtualization will generate around $3.4 billion in annual revenues by 2025, giving it about 9.5% of the total 4G and 5G RAN market.

“But before we get there, operators must figure out how to transition from legacy solutions to open and virtualized architectures without disrupting their services – quite a task. VMware, with its history of helping operators make this transition in other parts of the network, is in a strong position to support operators as they make this transition with their radio access networks.”

VMWare’s statement said its new platform achieves cloud-first automation, “by programmatically provisioning network functions across distributed vRAN sites, no matter what workloads they host.

“It gives CSPs the flexibility and efficiency to deploy vRAN functions wherever they are needed and helps connect siloed parts of the network. When combined with consistent operations across the Telco Cloud, it simplifies operations and lets CSPs quickly scale and tailor their 5G services for specific enterprise use cases.”

Automating business processes

IBM announced it will acquire myInvenio, an Italian process-mining software company. myInvenio helps customers identify which processes – including sales, procurement, production and accounting – should be automated to deliver the biggest benefits. It describes myInvenio as an AI-powered automation portfolio for business automation.

The portfolio includes robotic process automation (RPA), document processing, workflow and decisions. They are all built on Red Hat’s OpenShift open source software. IBM owns Red Hat.

IBM says the acquisition “further advances IBM’s hybrid cloud and AI strategy” to provide enterprises with a one-stop shop of AI-powered automation capabilities for business automation.

IBM’s currently has an OEM agreement with myInvenio. Its CEO, Massimiliano Delsante, CEO, commented, “We are revolutionising the way companies manage their process operations. myInvenio’s unique capability to automatically analyse processes and create simulations – what we call a ‘Digital Twin of an Organization’ – is joining…IBM’s AI-powered automation capabilities to better manage process execution.”

Once the deal has gone through, which is expected this quarter, IBM intends to integrate myInvenio’s capabilities into its Automation portfolio, which includes IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation and IBM’s hybrid cloud software for using AI on business processes and boost productivity.