a research project funded by the BMBF


Secure Software-defined 5G access network for flexible manufacturing


As defined by the work group Industry 4.0, the future concept Industry 4.0 comprises the usage of “distributed production resources (machines, robots, conveyor and storage systems, and operating resources) that are contextually autonomous, self-controlled and self-configured, and knowledge- and sensor-based”. The intelligently networked factory is a key factor by connecting not only means of production but also products, resources and people. Additionally to being connected within a factory, these cyber physical systems (CPS) are going to be interconnected around the world. As a result, the information and communication technology (ICT) will play a major role in developing Industry 4.0 applications. It will be possible to design industrially produced goods individually online. In order to integrate individual customer requests into production processes, the factory robots in intelligent factories need to be connected wirelessly. This high mobility enables them to communicate via multiple distributed wireless interfaces in the factory building, which is, however, still critical considering latency. For sophisticated Industry 4.0-applications, latencies below 1 ms will be available with 5G only.

When it comes to reliability, wireless communication via a shared medium is more challenging than wired communication. Industrial environments require a high level of data security: In many cases, the produced goods are of high economic value within the value chain, which puts them at risk of illegal actions of different parties. By increasing data security, only authorized parties are allowed to access the infrastructure. Highly efficient procedures protect internal communication between the participants from various attacks.

Approach and goals

The project "SEcure Software-Defined 5G Access Network for Flexible Manufacturing" (SESAM) aims at developing a holistic 5G system concept for these challenging demands to support low-latency mobility while simultaneously providing data security within a heterogeneous 5G network. The approach is based on a reliably secured, software-defined network (SDN), which implements handovers in a packet-based, cooperative and predictive way, ensuring reliable data transmission.

The main goals of the SESAM project include:

  • Low latency: Procedures need to be highly efficient to achieve low latency in a centralized Cloud-RAN network architecture with mobile users. To that end, the project pursues a heterogeneous approach based on radio and light transmission.
  • Data security: Visible light can be easily adjusted and spreads free from interaction. It can be easily constrained and aligned within the room to ensure increased data security. New encryption techniques for 5G networks based on SDN are developed to enable low-latency and secure transport.
  • Reliable transmission: The heterogeneous light- and radio-based transmission approach provides a valuable fallback solution, which ensures a working radio connection in case the visual connection is shaded or blocked.

The methods applied in SESAM are up-to-date: One of the first steps of the project is a plugtest to test the interfaces between data transmission, media access, interconnection, data security and industrial communication technology at an early stage, to identify vulnerabilities and to fix them in the course of the project. The subsystems will be further developed and investigated under real-life conditions as a first application test. After another optimization loop, the entire system is integrated into a realistic production environment where it is showcased and tested with specific users.

Project organization:

SESAM is a joint research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and involves various expert partners from research and industrial fields. The BMBF is the project owner for this project. The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute is responsible for the project lead.

  • Project management: VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH
  • Consortium: Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, Berlin Institute for Software Defined Networks (BISDN), R3 - Reliable Real-time Radio Communications GmbH (R3Coms), Rohde & Schwarz Cybersecurity
  • Associated partners: BMW AG, Deutsche Telekom AG - T-Labs, OSRAM GmbH
  • Project duration: 05/2017–04/2020

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