IBM, Verizon Create 5G Industry 4.0 Testbed in Texas

5G Network Innovations

IBM and Verizon have a long history and shared vision to bring innovation that matters to the world by helping enterprises across industries continue to enhance their operations and to better serve their customers.

Last year, IBM and Verizon announced a major collaboration to advance the era of 5G and edge computing in industrial operations, and just recently IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna shared in his Mobile World Congress keynote address that we’re working with Verizon to deploy a modern open hybrid cloud strategy across Verizon’s 5G network core and service orchestration platform.

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Today, we’re announcing another step forward in our longstanding collaboration. In partnership with Verizon, we are expanding the capabilities at IBM’s Industry Solution Lab in Coppell, TX to include a testbed environment for developing and testing innovative, 5G-enabled use cases for Industry 4.0 applications.

Enterprise customers at the lab will be able to develop and test how Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, which is being deployed in select cities across the US, can be combined with hybrid cloud, edge, and AI technologies to deliver a new class of intelligent applications and next gen use cases like robotics, guided vehicles, manufacturing process automation, visual quality inspection, data analytics and more.

This lab demonstrates the power of optimizing solutions for a new era of hybrid cloud that leverages the growing relationship between ‘connectivity + compute’ to create new value. The lab will provide hands-on experience for enterprises as they seek ways to leverage the new 5G capabilities – reduced latency, increased bandwidth, network slicing and edge – by trialing new use cases and highly automated deployment and management approaches.

To power these trial use cases, Verizon has installed 5G Ultra Wideband and its Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) platform to enable customers to experience the value of high speed, reliability, and ultra-low latency. The approach includes the seamless integration of IBM’s hybrid cloud and AI technologies, which run on Red Hat OpenShift. Taken together, customers will have access to an environment that is designed to deliver a level of performance that enables truly innovative solutions and use cases to accelerate their transformation to Industry 4.0.

The testbed provides a pre-commercial, standalone 5G and MEC environment and, importantly, technical resources and expertise needed to test and optimize products. Customers can co-create business-specific use cases and jointly work with IBM Global Business Services and our ecosystem partners to leverage these technologies in addressing current business challenges and bringing new solutions and services to market.

The initial priority focus areas include:

Asset Monitoring and Optimization: Logistics and supply chain enterprises can use the IBM Maximo Application Suite and IBM Acoustic Insights to trial how they can incorporate ultrasonic technology to anticipate and mitigate malfunctioning of their package handling machinery.

These enterprises can leverage IBM Maximo, Verizon IoT solutions, and the power of 5G, including on the edge of factory floors, to deliver business value now. IBM Maximo® Predict is designed to illuminate insights about predicting and managing asset failure to reduce downtime. IBM Maximo® Asset Monitor helps maintenance and operations leaders optimize operations with insights into failures at enterprise scale. And, Verizon’s Critical Asset Sensor tackles a number of use cases from tracking a mobile asset to monitoring an indoor environment.

Field Worker Productivity and Safety: By using Maximo Mobile on devices with Verizon 5G, a company can trial scenarios where they use AI, remote human assistance, and real-time data to help foster on-the-job safety and enhance the quality and efficiency of field work with guided workflows, to reduce multiple repeat inspections and repairs of the same equipment. Other opportunities to enable field worker productivity include solutions like Ario, Verizon’s Built on 5G Challenge Winner that leverages AR to empower and train frontline workers.

Visual Inspection: Industrial product manufacturers can leverage IBM’s suite of visual inspection products, including IBM Maximo Visual Inspection. Mobile devices running the suite could be mounted on assembly lines, robotic arms, or even held or worn by the user to inspect components and finished goods for defects using near real-time insights to improve manufacturing processes.

A supervisor who needs to manage inspections could take advantage of the user experience of the IBM Services Software Inspection Workbench app. By combining low latency connectivity and distributed AI across factory lines, manufacturers can scale visual inspections to help achieve quality targets across facilities globally.

Announcing this joint 5G testbed with Verizon underscores IBM’s commitment to deepening partnerships with our clients and our ongoing investment in capabilities that include, among others, centers of excellence and labs around the world.

As hybrid cloud and AI fundamentally reshape the telco industry, we continue to enhance our global capabilities, which includes the recent announcement of the IBM Open RAN Center of Excellence in Spain. IBM is dedicated to knowledge sharing and co-creation as we help develop new use cases with our telco clients that leverage the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications and our large and growing partner ecosystem. Our approach is founded on the commitment to open hybrid cloud, industry standard interoperability and zero trust security that a 5G and edge future requires.

Through IBM’s ongoing commitment to these centers and labs, one thing is clear: our goal is to accelerate tangible business impact for our customers through reduced time to value. And this is more vital than ever, as telcos – and the customers they serve – are increasingly seeking new and proven ways to explore and harness the value of 5G and the power of ‘connectivity + compute.’