In April 2023, our project submission for a 5G PoC was selected by Agence du Numérique in the framework of Industrie du Futur. This project was held together with Proximus, I-care, Multitel and A6K to apply predictive maintenance to HVAC. thanks to 5G technology.
After several months of collaboration among teams, we are proud to announce the success of the implementation involving our members. Together, we go further.
Imagine using AI and data to predict the malfunctions of your industrial facilities. Well today, that is possible thanks to I-care, the global leader in machine health. “For some companies, an unexpected breakdown usually means substantial layoffs and a major loss of earnings,” Thomas Di Pietro, Director of R&D and Technology at I-care, explains.
You read it right: using industrial sensors connected to the 5G network, you can predict malfunctions, the service life of parts, and the extent of wear. It’s an innovation originating at A6K, in the 5G experimental laboratory of Proximus NXT in collaboration with Multitel.
How does it work?
The wireless sensors are applied directly to the customer’s equipment. They measure the temperature, vibrations, rotational speed or ultrasound in real time. Whether motors, fans, or pumps are involved, all facilities can benefit from this cutting-edge technology.
The A6K HVAC system was in fact the focus of the PoC bringing together Proximus NXT, Multitel, and I-care. “In addition to having demonstrated the efficacy of a collaboration of different market leaders, we now have a significant monitoring advantage. A double success,” stresses Abd-Samad Habbachi, CEO of A6K.
What does 5G have to do with all this?
While the I-care technology functions with 4G, it is experiencing a real boom with 5G. “We install 50,000 sensors annually. In the future, this figure could be multiplied by a factor of 100,” continues Thomas. As a cutting-edge technology, 5G will be capable of managing all the IoT applications. “Not to mention that it will be feasible for businesses to install a 5G private network alongside the public network,” adds Frédéric Renette, 5G Business Development Lead at Proximus NXT. It is a must for companies in search of security, reliability, and performance.
Again and again and again
Rome was not built in a day. Neither was the implementation of the new 5G sensors on the A6K HVAC units. “It was a new technology for everyone and the first integration into an industrial environment,” explains Thomas. “So, we needed numerous iterations and many trials to achieve it.” It is a process that specialists know well, because it is so closely linked to innovation. The real challenge was the timing. “We wanted to accomplish this feat in a few months.”
Unity is strength
The ecosystem as a differentiator? As a Walloon Region research center, A6K offers its partners shared iteration loops facilitating creativity. In addition to the promise of a technological HUB, each participant discovers the strength of a human HUB. “We all sat around the table with a common motivation and ambition, with no room for a spirit of competition,” explains Frédéric. It was very simple: the members did not know the titles or statuses of their colleagues. Only their first names and their skills counted.
An eye on the future
Thanks to this particularly inspiring Proof of Concept, the partners have mastered the concepts of the future of predictive maintenance. “Together, we acquired skills that we can reuse in other fields,” stresses Frédéric. Augmented reality, virtual reality, remote communication, data exchanges between people, machines, robots, quality control… it is clear that 5G has no limits.
How 5G stimulates cocreation and applications
5G is being deployed and is becoming more and more accessible. That was one of the core messages of the Proximus NXT event organized on 12 October 2023 in collaboration with A6K, a multidisciplinary center created in Charleroi in 2020 to stimulate innovation and value creation in the field of engineering. On the agenda were testimonials, practical cases and demos of emerging applications for our businesses.
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