As the first company outside Asia, Lufthansa Technik has put its own standalone 5G campus network based on the 5G standard Release 16 into operation at its Hamburg site. This now makes it possible to implement data-intensive projects and work even more efficiently. We talked to Dr. Claudius Noack, IT consultant and technology scout at Lufthansa Industry Solutions: about the projects, about challenges during implementation and about key points that companies should consider when building their own 5G network.
Norderstedt, February 28, 2020 – Dr. Noack, together with Mr. Voigt from Lufthansa Technik, you have managed the 5G projects.
What exactly was implemented?
In short, we implemented two use cases with 5G technology at Lufthansa Technik's Hamburg site. On the one hand, engine maintenance can now be carried out virtually. A mobile device transmits live images of individual, removed engine parts without interference and in high-resolution quality via video stream to the customer's site. He can talk directly to the mechanics about the removed parts and make order decisions on the basis of the live stream, without having to come to Hamburg as before.
What was the focus of the other project?
Here too, the focus was on further streamlining coordination processes. Even if the requirements are completely different. The idea was to simplify the process of furnishing the VIP aircraft cabins. In the still empty aircraft fuselage, all 3D design data can now be visualized via augmented reality together with the current installation situation in the aircraft. This enables the technicians to identify necessary adjustments more quickly in the future and to discuss the necessary measures with the engineers via video conference.
How have you proceeded in the course of these projects?
In the beginning is the use case analysis. Lufthansa Technik was very open to possible potential right from the start. So for us, the initial focus was on finding concrete use cases. Here we worked closely with the innovation department and strictly sounded out and prioritized according to feasibility and added value. The next step was to decide which 5G partner with its technology was most suitable for the respective project. Does the company need the support of a network operator? Or is cooperation with a pure equipment supplier such as Nokia or Ericsson sufficient? Depending on the application, companies are faced with the decision of either relying on existing frequencies of a network operator or reserving and applying for their own frequencies. If the project depends on a constantly high data throughput, the choice should be made to use own frequencies, which are also particularly secure. However, companies must apply for these frequencies at the Federal Network Agency. This is a procedure in which external expertise should definitely be obtained. Applicants must provide credible assurance that they need the frequencies and must explain which projects they intend to solve with the technology. This step also involves coordination with direct neighbours and other stakeholders. Overall, this is a lengthy process and can tie up capacity over several weeks. Those responsible should be aware of this at the beginning of the project. Finally, support during the rollout of the project is advisable. Without checklists or corresponding experience values, it is possible that a lot of time will be lost, depending on the scope of the use case. It is important to integrate different contact persons in the company into the project team at an early stage - from IT experts, electricians to caretakers.
And what do you recommend to companies that want to implement a 5G network themselves?
As I just mentioned, sufficient time should first be planned. In our case, the project had been running since May 2019, and by September 2019 the evaluation of the use cases had been completed and we were able to start implementing the two cases. Depending on the particular use case, each company should expect a realization phase of about six months as soon as it is clear how to use the 5G technology for itself. In answering this question, companies should be honest with themselves. What are the challenges in the industry and in your own company? Could they possibly be implemented just as well or even better with existing solutions such as WLAN or the public 4G network? It is important to rely on project partners who can offer orientation in decision-making processes, independent of the respective provider. In this way, companies can save time and money and avoid unpleasant surprises in productive operation. As always, the motto is: It does not necessarily have to be the latest technology - it just has to be able to solve the existing problem. Because, as always, the motto is: It does not necessarily have to be the latest technology - it just has to be able to solve the existing problem. This also applies to 5G.
Thank you for the interview, Dr. Noack.
About Lufthansa Industry Solutions
Lufthansa Industry Solutions is a service provider for IT consulting and system integration. This Lufthansa subsidiary helps its clients with the digital transformation of their companies. Its customer base includes companies both within and outside the Lufthansa Group, as well as more than 200 companies in various lines of business. The company is based in Norderstedt and employs more than 2,000 members of staff at several branch offices in Germany, Albania, Switzerland and the USA.