By Paul Savill, Global Network & Edge Computing Practice Leader at Kyndryl

Are investments in the 5G market slowing?

While that may be true with some of the public network use cases, we are seeing some incredible early results with large scale deployments of private wireless networks, particularly in heavy industrial environments. 

Earlier this year, Kyndryl announced an expanded network and edge partnership with Nokia to support private wireless networks using LTE, 5G and the Citizen's Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum. So far, we have jointly deployed 18 large installations across three continents, with some of them covering up to 20 square miles (that’s equivalent to 9,680 football fields).

Chevron Phillips Chemical is a leading producer in chemicals and polymers

Consider our recent deployment with Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem). The leading producer in chemicals and polymers partnered with Kyndryl to deploy industrial-grade LTE private wireless networks for eight of its U.S. facilities, including its The Woodlands, Texas, headquarters. The company had outdoor Wi-Fi infrastructure but wanted to digitally transform its facility operations with high-performance connectivity covering indoors and outdoors, as well as advance connected worker initiatives.

Chevron Phillips Chemical is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas

While many other industrial environments have long since implemented enterprise wireless networks to enable digital processes, Wi-Fi technologies perform poorly in the context of the densely developed, multistory steel and concrete structures that comprise a large industrial plant. The quantity of access points that would be required make such an option economically unviable, even before considering the challenges involved in guaranteeing service levels through such a strategy. Kyndryl’s solution rests on a foundation of implementing a private LTE/5G network, through which full coverage can be efficiently established across sites using a handful of access points, versus the thousands that a Wi-Fi solution would demand. 

To drive digital transformation at an exponential rate, the teams did extensive testing beforehand and deployed the private wireless networks in two batches — instead of eight — to cover multiple sites concurrently. Together with CPChem, Kyndryl and Nokia designed and implemented private wireless networks using the CBRS spectrum, with the networks running 4G LTE today and able to support 5G in the future.

To be clear, the size and complexity of the deployments, the safety requirements of the facility plants and some adversity to technological changes were considerable challenges. However, Kyndryl successfully deployed the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (Nokia DAC) private wireless solution, and we regularly monitor and manage services to automate the identification and resolution of issues that could disrupt the network.

Watch to learn more about consumer versus private 5G and layering technologies on top of private wireless networks.

The benefits and capabilities enabled by the private wireless network deployments have quickly been realized. Employees now have quick access to mission-critical business applications across 3,000 mobile devices, and real-time collaboration between teams anywhere in the plant via Microsoft Teams. Workers can pull up online manuals in the field to resolve repairs or fill out work orders online in SAP and receive quick assessments. On the plant floor, there has been operational technology integration with manufacturing assets, enabling connection, monitoring and management of machines.

Down the road, Kyndryl will work with CPChem to expand the private wireless deployments globally, and enable further use cases and applications like 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, we can use AIOps, specifically Kyndryl Bridge, to anticipate outages and potential downtime, which helps to improve costs and efficiencies. By layering on other technologies like edge computing, IoT and augmented applications, the private LTE/5G networks will add next-level automation, enhanced worker safety and efficiencies into business-critical operations. 

At the Connected Worker Summit in Chicago, held Nov. 13-15, 2023, Kyndryl and CPChem executives discussed the business challenges and benefits of digital transformation during a session titled “Developing a Private Wireless Solution to Securely Modernize your IT Organization.”

Paul Savill

Global Network & Edge Computing Practice Leader