5G cellular network-towers at Gahcho-Kue mine

Private 5G Deployment in Industry 4.0: Challenges and Best Practices for Canadian Enterprises

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Industry 4.0 demands more than reliable connectivity – it needs a revolution. We interviewed Galaxy Broadband’s VP of Solutions/Sales Engineering, Andrew MacKenzie, who believes private 5G networks hold the key. We dove into the details with him to uncover how Canadian enterprises can leverage this technology for better performance and stronger outcomes.

Think remote mining operations, Industry 4.0-driven smart manufacturing, and even real-time healthcare monitoring – private 5G is ready to transform businesses’ operations.

Enter, Private 5G

Public cellular networks might work for streaming videos, but industries need more – more speed, better security, and rock-solid reliability.  That’s where private 5G networks step in. These dedicated networks offer businesses custom control over coverage, data privacy, and performance without the limitations of commercial carriers.

Private 5g use cases are as diverse as the industries themselves. Andrew MacKenzie from Galaxy Broadband highlights this: 

“Private 5G is quickly finding its way into diverse sectors. Hospitals, universities, agriculture, and especially mining – which is driving much of this innovation – will all benefit. Warehousing operations are another prime area for these networks.”

From manufacturing floors bustling with automated processes to remote healthcare facilities demanding lightning-fast data transfer, private 5G is reshaping connectivity.   This isn’t just theory; businesses are adopting it here in Canada.  Want to see it in action?  

Here’s how Galaxy Broadband worked with De Beers Group to transform Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine operations.

The Private 5G Deployment Process

Deploying a private 5G network is more than just plug-and-play.  From crafting the initial blueprints to the final signal test, success hinges on careful planning and expert execution.

Let’s break down the crucial steps:

  1. RF Design and Coverage Mapping: “It all starts with the design,” explains Andrew.  Specialized software creates digital coverage simulations,  pinpointing where to place radios and how many you’ll need.  Think of it as a strategic video game, accounting for buildings, terrain, and the site’s specific requirements.
  2. Collaboration with Vendors: Deploying a private 5G network involves much more than buying some hardware.  NTFS partners like Galaxy Broadband work closely with vendors like Nokia to ensure compatibility, smooth integration, and access to expert support.
  3. Physical Installation: Once the network roadmap exists, it’s time to go hands-on. Radios are mounted strategically atop towers, buildings, or specialized structures. Behind the scenes, cables link these radios to the central Core (the network’s ‘brain’). For flawless execution, partnering with experienced installation specialists like NTFS is crucial.  Throughout this stage, seamless teamwork across vendors, NTFS’ installation teams, and the client ensures the physical setup aligns perfectly with the technical specifications.
  4. Testing: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” notes Andrew. Post-installation, rigorous testing maps real-world signal strength and coverage. Discrepancies between the predicted design and the real-world data may prompt collaboration to fine-tune the network for peak performance.

Beyond the Technical: Spectrum and Ownership

Obtaining spectrum (your network’s wireless frequencies) is another pivotal puzzle. Historically, getting this through established telecoms was a complex, expensive hurdle. Galaxy Broadband takes a different approach:

“We want clients to fully own their network,” Andrew emphasizes. “That includes the equipment, the spectrum, and the freedom from reliance on big telcos.” Galaxy simplifies the spectrum licensing process and assists with independent ownership.

Addressing the Challenges of Private 5G Deployment

While private 5G networks offer immense potential, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges enterprises must consider before deployment. Andrew highlights some key considerations:

Initial Investment

The most significant barrier is often the upfront cost. Establishing a network core, purchasing radios, acquiring spectrum licenses, and hiring qualified installation experts come with a substantial financial investment.

Technical Expertise

Effective private 5G deployment and ongoing management require specialized technical knowledge. While we at NTFS streamline this, some in-house technical capacity or vendor partnership is often a necessity.

Deployment in Harsh Environments

Andrew notes that certain settings, like remote mines, present complexities. Factors like extreme weather, power availability, and physical access to remote equipment must be carefully accounted for.

ROI Timeline

While long-term operational savings are a prime advantage of private 5G, managing expectations is essential. Realizing a positive return on investment may take time, depending on the network’s specific use cases and scale.

For the above mentioned challenges and complexities, companies like Galaxy Broadband choose NTFS for expert Private 5G deployment and installation.

Two engineers wearing safety gear and reflective vests are discussing over a tablet at a mining site with exposed earthen layers in the background, representing an on-field scenario of private 5G network deployment for industrial communication and data management.

Understand the Cost of Private 5G

Implementing a private 5G network involves notable costs, yet the long-term operational efficiencies and improvements they unlock can offset these investments. Let’s dive deeper:

Initial Investment

  • Network Core: The heart of your network might cost upwards of $250,000. Choose vendors that fit your budget and reliability needs.
  • Radios and Infrastructure: The number of radios needed depends on your site’s size and coverage requirements. Consider mounting costs on towers/structures, as well as cabling expenses.
  • Licensing: Acquiring and maintaining spectrum licenses are additional upfront costs. Fortunately, our customer, Galaxy Broadband, can streamline this process, facilitating options for independent spectrum ownership.

Annual Operational Costs

  • Maintenance and Support: Expect roughly $40,000 to $50,000 annually for essential network upkeep, software updates, and technical support.
  • Upgrades and Expansion: As your needs evolve, budget for potential capital expenditures (CapEx) on new hardware, radios, or expanding the network’s reach.
  • Device Compatibility: Factor in potential upgrades or purchasing new 5G-enabled devices integrating with your network.

The Cost-Benefit Balance

MacKenzie emphasizes the immense cost-saving potential of private 5G – especially in sectors like mining.  Here’s why:

  • Equipment Optimization: Real-time equipment monitoring facilitates predictive maintenance, minimizing costly breakdowns and maximizing asset lifespan.
  • Enhanced Safety: Reliable connectivity, real-time data, and location tracking significantly improve safety protocols, reducing on-site incidents and associated costs.
  • Operational Efficiency: Replace outdated communication systems with streamlined communication that cuts costs while boosting productivity – a cornerstone of Industry 4.0 success.

Seizing the Power of Private 5G

Throughout this blog, we’ve explored the private 5G revolution with insights from MacKenzie. Let’s review the key points:

  • Private 5G empowers businesses with tailored speed, data control, and reliable performance impossible with public cellular networks.
  • Industries like mining, manufacturing, healthcare, and beyond benefit from secure, low-latency private 5G connectivity.
  • Careful planning, expert collaboration, and thorough testing guarantee successful private 5G implementation.
  • Private 5G involves an initial investment, but improved efficiency, optimized safety, and new revenue opportunities counterbalance these costs in the long term.
  • Andrew emphasizes that Galaxy Broadband provides a unique path to freedom from reliance on traditional telecoms by helping clients own their network and spectrum.

Your Path to Private 5G Success

Are you ready to harness private 5G to reshape your operations? Galaxy Broadband and NTFS form a winning combination. Galaxy Broadband leverages unparalleled industry understanding to design optimized solutions. NTFS excels in seamless network installation, ensuring the hardware aligns with your strategic vision.

Join the private 5G revolution! Start your journey by consulting with Galaxy Broadband and NTFS.



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