Choose the Right Wi-Fi 6 Solution to Connect Your AI-Enabled Smart Factory

By Mei-Ling Chiang

Director of Product Management


May 09, 2024


Image Credit: Infineon

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being deployed in factories enabling smart factories, or in some cases, even smarter factories. To ensure optimal performance with AI, instant and reliable communications between the management system and edge products in noisy factory environments are critical for immediate response and operations. The wireless solutions being deployed to help maximize communications are Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E operating at 6 GHz. The solutions are also proving to be a boon for related AI-enabled applications, including fleet management for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), vision-based teleoperations, and proactive safety use cases.

To understand what’s needed to make an AI-enabled smart factory a reality, let’s first identify the key challenges, then we can move on to how to solve those challenges.

Key Challenges   

Incredibly large amounts of data will be generated, overextending Wi-Fi bandwidth and throughput. It is projected that massive amounts of data—some estimates place it at 175 zettabytes—will be generated for AI modeling and training in 20251. Some data can be processed locally at the edge, while some data will be transferred to a remote management system to improve the algorithms using machine-learning. Streaming large data over wireless media will require highly reliable maximized bandwidth and throughputs.

The wireless connection for AMRs must pass through many obstacles on a factory floor. Quite often, the environment’s information is updated by the AMRs and sent to a remote fleet manage system which then calculates and deploys the AI models and optimizes the mission control. Typically, the AMRs operate in large warehouses, so an extended range wireless connection is needed to ensure that the AMRs run in the most effective route to the destination.

Keep in mind that intense data crunching, which is associated with edge AI, can burn a lot of power, reducing the run time of a battery-powered AMR and generating extra heat in any type of design. Hence, conserving energy every possible way is important to increase AMR productivity.

Slow response times can potentially damage equipment or risk workers’ safety. For example, vision-based teleoperation applications usually require fast synchronized remote control, real-time video streaming, and precise feedback. A slow response due to inadequate wireless communications equipment could cause damage. As far as people are concerned, cameras are used to monitor activity for possible hazards. A slow response due to network latency can be detrimental to the protection of workers and bystanders alike.

Solutions to Those Challenges

High Data Rate Streaming

Let’s now discuss how we solve these issues. To deal with the tremendous amount of data that’s generated by AI algorithms, a high streaming data rate to the remote management system is required. Infineon’s AIROC™ CYW5557x Wi-Fi 6 family can stream data up to 1.2 Gbps to ensure that important information is completely transferred in minimum amount of time.

Stay Connected from Corner of Factory

Staying in constant connection is important. This connection can be difficult when robots move to the edge of the warehouse, drifting far away from an access point. The Infineon CYW5557x family contains a “range boost” feature to enhance Wi-Fi coverage, enabling more than 70% wider range than competitors’ Wi-Fi 6 products. With this feature, the robots can travel further without the worry of losing their connection to the network. And AMRs can receive and transmit data in real time to a remote server which can smoothly deploy AI models and optimize mission control for the AMR.

Maximized AMR Productivity

Because AMRs are typically powered by batteries, their productivity is dependent on their active service time, hence, conserving energy is imperative. The Infineon AIROC™ CYW5557x has multiple advanced power saving features to optimize power consumption not only for the Wi-Fi operation but also for the entire AMR system without sacrificing network wireless connections.

Running in Real Time

Real-time operation is an important factor in vision-based teleoperation applications. It often requires real-time video streaming from multiple cameras and instant and precise feedback and control from machinery. This information is streamed wirelessly, making it subject to delays from interference and other environmental factors. The newly-opened 6Ghz band supported by the CYW5557x family provides a huge improvement in latency due to its wider bandwidth and relative lack of interference from other wireless transmitters, thereby avoiding network jam-ups that were common with 2.4-GHz networks.

Immune from Interferences in Noisy Factory Environment

The factory environment is also known to be a noisy one--lots of machinery operating, generating EMI, and various wireless signals bouncing around the walls causing interference. The CYW5557x family is better equipped to withstand this type of narrow and wide-band interference and system noise, thanks to its advanced noise/interference mitigation features.

End-to-End Security for Edge Devices

From a security perspective, too often product design focuses on MPU and APU protection, while overlooking other components which may be susceptible to attack. The advanced security architecture proposed by Infineon deploys multiple layers of protections to strengthen end-to-end security for the edge devices. The advanced security protection includes the over-the-air and all the various subsystems protection throughout the entire product lifecycle. These features include secure boot, firmware encryption and authentication, crypto offloads, crypto key management, anti-rollback prevention, and lifecycle management. Having multiple redundant levels of defense significantly reduce the vulnerability of industrial products.

It’s clear that you have options when it comes to powering your Wi-Fi 6 smart-factory network. Choose the option that provides the highest bandwidth, the lowest latency, and the maximum level of security—The CYW5557x family from Infineon.

1Turbocharge Real-Time AI Performance for Industrial Applications webinar: Aspencore, Nov. 15, 2023

Mei-Ling Chiang is an accomplished product marketing professional with expertise in the wireless industry. Through her career, she has successfully launched numerous wireless products with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 15.4, Sub-G, or LoRa technology to serve IoT, smart home, consumer, and AI markets. With strategic mindset and a customer-centric approach, she identifies market opportunities and develops compelling value propositions.

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