Communication is best achieved with speed and without unnecessary delays and detours. But when this reaches into specifics such as with automation, the demands on communication are even higher. There, messages often have to be transmitted in the microsecond range, to the benefit of machine synchronisation or drive assimilation. Honing in on this, Fraunhofer has amalgamated Li-Fi and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) to enable this kind of data connectivity: real-time and deterministic data transmission is achieved wirelessly.

This is a turn of pace from the traditional, real-time data transmission via cable, carried out using special fieldbus systems. As Industry 4.0 looks to emphasise the wireless, particularly considering the mobility of industrial robots and automation technology, this is unsuitable. Therefore, Fraunhofer’s solution appeals to the dynamic manufacturing involved in contemporary factories. 

“Li-Fi is a technology for wireless data transmission by means of light, and it offers the possibility to realise transmission times in the microsecond range. In addition, the data connection with Li-Fi is reliable and offers consistent quality,” explains Dr. Alexander Noack, head of development at Fraunhofer IPMS. “Li-Fi is therefore an ideal medium for real-time and deterministic wireless data communication. In this way, Time Sensitive Networking can also be implemented without cables, extending existing Ethernet standards through a common network, ideal for the high bandwidth and fast cycle times that are demanded from contemporary EMS customers. With today’s radio standards such as 4G, LTE, W-LAN or the future 5G radio standard, required latency times from automation in the microsecond range cannot be achieved. The Fraunhofer IPMS therefore integrates TSN into a Li-Fi hotspot.” 

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