In the world of technology and innovation, recognition and awards are often seen as the ultimate milestones of success. While we may not have claimed the coveted FutureNet award in the category of "The Most Innovative Application of AI & Automation to Enhance Customer Experience in APAC," we wear our finalist shortlisting with pride. Our journey has been a remarkable one, and being recognised as a finalist alongside AsiaInfo Technologies and China Mobile Tianjin, Ericsson & TPG, Huawei Technologies and Rakuten Symphony & Rakuten Mobile is an honour in itself.
Our submission for the award encapsulated a remarkable achievement that, while centred on a smart factory in Japan, has profound implications for improving customer experience across the Asia-Pacific region. As governments embrace strategies like Japan's Connected Industries initiative to advance smart factories, the need for enhanced wireless connectivity, powered by AI and automation, has become paramount. This mission outlines the transformation of a factory's connectivity and demonstrates how cutting-edge technology can redefine the way wireless networks are planned for an enhanced customer and business experience.
Challenges: Overcoming the Odds
The quest faced a dual challenge - firstly, the factory environment was an intricate mesh of metallic structures that challenged traditional wireless communication, and secondly, a densely populated wireless landscape, with various devices and machinery, introduced interference that could jeopardize network performance. These challenges mirror those encountered when enhancing customer experience: diverse customer expectations, the need for seamless connectivity, and application-specific services.
Innovative Solution: A Game-Changer
The journey began when Sumitomo Shoji Machinex, tasked with designing the network, embraced Ranplan Professional, a state-of-the-art network planning software. Using automation tools within the software, a digital 3D model of the factory, complete with machinery, was created. Materials from Ranplan's device hub were applied to automatically simulate RF propagation, accounting for the inherent signal reflection and diffraction challenges posed by metallic objects. These 3D RF propagation simulations empowered our customer to precisely determine the number and placement of base stations, antennas, and the tilt angle while adhering to installation restrictions.
Results and Impact: A Transformational Achievement
By leveraging advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to streamline the traditionally labour-intensive process of designing and optimizing wireless networks, Sumitomo Shoji Machinex achieved a transformational milestone. They meticulously validated the simulations using on-site measurements under various conditions, mimicking real-world scenarios within the factory. This approach pinpointed areas of signal loss and optimized antenna tilt angles, maximizing coverage performance while minimizing signal leakage. The impact was profound, as the factory's production process seamlessly evolved with a robust, low-latency 5G Private Wireless Network.
Automation and open platforms are transforming the future of network planning, enabling faster, more responsive, and cost-effective solutions that improve both the network planner and their customer’s experience. By automating tasks such as building modelling, spectrum allocation, antenna placement, and interference mitigation, our customers can accelerate network deployment, enhancing efficiency, reliability, and performance for their customers.
Testimonial: Paving the Way for Innovation
"Ranplan Professional provides our customers with an all-in-one independent network planning platform which is leading the way companies design and maintain their local 5G networks. The ability to precisely model the unique environments and optimize the network designs with the use of 3D RF simulations and productivity-enhancing automation tools has delivered and will continue to deliver substantial time and cost savings for our customers."
Shun Miyamoto, Information and Communications Team, Marubun
Conclusion: A New Era in Customer Experience
In conclusion, our journey, epitomized by this smart factory case study, is a testament to the power of innovation in AI and automation to redefine our customers' experiences in planning wireless networks. We believe that our accomplishments inspire a new era in which technology elevates customer interactions, drives operational efficiencies, and creates loyalty across diverse markets.
While we may not have taken home the FutureNet award, we stand tall as proud innovators, determined to continue our quest to enhance the customer experience across the Asia-Pacific region. Our journey is far from over, and we remain committed to pushing the boundaries of what's possible through AI and automation.