Nokia and Kyndryl want to upgrade their factory to Industry 4.0

In February 2023, Nokia and Kyndryl announced a three-year extension of their agreement to jointly innovate and accelerate the delivery of LTE and 5G private wireless connectivity services and Industry 4.0 solutions. The partnership builds on previous successes over the past year, during which the partner companies had more than a hundred active contacts with companies in 24 countries. Most of these exposures were in industrial manufacturing, including multinational petrochemicals, mining and timber, utilities and energy companies.

In this article, I examine the Nokia and Kyndryl partnership and the reasons behind its impressive growth.


The world of manufacturing is changing

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is the latest phase of the industrial revolution that includes automation, machine learning, real-time data, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Industry 4.0 goes beyond new technologies and tools to revolutionize business operations and growth.

IIoT sensors now report environmental changes such as conductivity, temperature, and vibration to the cloud in real time, enabling automated data interpretation to generate recommended actions.

Many automated assembly lines benefit from high-precision robots that can work 24/7 without interruptions or the risk of injury (think Tesla). With this in mind, private 5G networks with high bandwidth, low latency and extreme reliability are essential for uninterrupted operations. Autonomous machines, guided vehicles, and warehouse operations (think Amazon) are also turning to private 5G.

Augmented Reality provides a virtual environment that helps technicians find and solve problems faster and train new hires. Augmented reality can reduce downtime by helping technicians with complicated repair jobs and eliminating the need to search for information on a separate computer.

A prime example of Industry 4.0 in action is chemical giant Dow, for whom Nokia and Kyndryl successfully implemented a private wireless network with edge computing at a petrochemical processing plant in Freeport, Texas. Dow’s Freeport site is the largest integrated chemical manufacturing complex in the western hemisphere, with 40 manufacturing units covering 20 square miles. For the full Dow Project story – complete with a video – click here.

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The before and after contrast in the Dow project couldn’t be more stark. Imagine thousands of components being maintained using manual, paper-driven processes. In order to carry out a maintenance job, an engineer often had to go on site to inspect the affected components, pull the relevant process documents from the paper filing system, write a safety analysis report and then deliver it to a field worker. Digitization has drastically reduced paper and replaced it with real-time communication, making information readily available for troubleshooting and preventative maintenance.

Nokia and Kyndryl: A synergetic partnership

Following its 2021 spin-off from IBM, Kyndryl identified three areas of focus: cloud networking, edge computing, and private wireless. These areas were chosen because the company – formerly IBM’s infrastructure services business – already had a good reputation with customers there and because they had high growth potential.

Kyndryl already provides managed services to many Fortune 1000 clients. A high level of trust was already in place for these customers, which is critical as a private wireless network deployed in an industrial facility is a critical infrastructure.

Another important takeaway is that projects like this for Dow involve much more than just providing a private wireless service. This includes the integration of operational technology, local and wide area networks, cloud networks, and enterprise applications running both at the edge and in the cloud.

Putting the whole solution together is not easy. For Kyndryl, a crucial part of the value proposition for new projects is the success that has already been achieved with other customers.

Nokia’s contribution to the partnership is a private wireless technology that is excellent from an operational perspective. Nokia’s Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) is a private wireless networking and edge computing platform offered as a service. DAC offers connectivity options with local edge computing capabilities and a catalog of click-and-deploy applications to support operational technology (OT) use cases. Nokia also has a robust portfolio of rugged industrial equipment, including edge computing hardware and wireless access points.

The platform includes a web-based portal that allows customers to manage multiple locations worldwide. The portal can deploy applications and push software updates to all or individual sites.

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Based on the results to date, the value proposition of Kyndryl’s know-how, systems integration and ongoing management, and Nokia’s private wireless technology and robust industrial equipment to industrial customers is compelling.

Overcoming customer objections

One of the biggest challenges for partners is showing decision makers business benefits and potential savings. Working with global system integrators like Kyndryl, Nokia has developed a rapid prototyping system that can build a private network in less than an hour and demonstrate its business benefits in a day or two.

Simplicity is an important quality that Nokia has made its top priority. A private network set up incorrectly can result in high operational costs, as setting up a 5G network in a factory is understandably much more complicated than setting up a few WiFi access points. Nokia’s strategy was to simplify the process; In fact, DAC is the result of three years of effort to simplify every aspect of the process as much as possible to achieve the lowest cost of ownership.

Wrap up

In terms of Industry 4.0 and IIoT, we are in a good place. There are interoperability standards between vendors, robust security and solution providers that can hide complexity.

As companies adopt Industry 4.0, the effective integration and deployment of private LTE and 5G wireless networks is essential to enable the use cases outlined above. Private 5G provides complete control over data, security, user experience, wireless coverage and cellular device operations – without having to rely on large commercial networks or parts of public carrier services.

Those who benefit most from improving operational efficiency and safety are in the industrial sector, including mining operations, chemical plants and automotive manufacturing. If you fit this profile, maybe it’s time to talk to the folks at Nokia and Kyndryl.

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Patrick Moorhead, Founder, CEO and Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, is an investor in dMY Technology Group Inc. VI, Fivestone Partners, Frore Systems, Groq, MemryX, Movandi and Ventana Micro.