Secure Wireless Communication for Industry
In the continuing modernization and digitalization of production processes, wireless communication with and between machines plays a crucial role. Where such communication is already in use, a problem has become apparent: there is no general wireless industrial standard, as there is for mobile phones. This creates a number of challenges, in particular that of data security. In response, Dr. Bernhard Etzlinger and Dr. Andreas Springer are developing methods to provide more precise localization of communicating machines, increased data security and real-time capabilities.
5G − the fifth-generation mobile network standard − is currently under development. Together with Industry 4.0, it is expected to play a significant role: imagine a production bay with a variety of different machines, including forklifts, which move through the area with different loads. Communication between the machines, e.g. in reaction to delays, malfunctions, or sequence changes, should ensure that the production processes are as efficient as possible. At the same time, communications should be as “secure” as possible: no unauthorized access to the transmitted data should be allowed, the machines must be able to be located as precisely as possible (where exactly is the forklift now?) and data must be transmitted without delay.
To fulfill these requirements, the mobile network providers supplying this wireless network need methods of transmission which, in contrast to mobile phone networks, function without central nodes - that is, they are decentralized at the user. A network of base stations would provide this communication network and also define who can communicate with whom.
“As a part of the LIT project, we plan to build a 4G and 5G base station in the lab and so make these basic functions available,” says Etzlinger.
In the next stage, real-time methods for localization and to ensure data security will be developed.
Dr. Bernhard Etzlinger is a senior researcher in the RF-systems group at the JKU Institute for Communications Engineering and RF-Systems. After studying mechatronics at JKU Linz, he shifted his focus to signal processing and telecommunications engineering while working at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics in Wachtberg, Germany. In 2012, he returned to the JKU Institute for Communications Engineering and RF-Systems.
In the course of his PhD studies, Etzlinger spent time as a visiting scholar at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, at KTH Stockholm (both in Sweden) and at the Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, USA.
Etzlinger is a member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society and acts as a reviewer for several IEEE publications.
“I see enormous potential in the development of fifth-generation mobile communication systems because completely new challenges arise from the combination of synchronisation, security and localisation that have not yet been tackled in an interdisciplinary way,” says Etzlinger.