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Technology

NTT Data continues its drive to be one of the more vocal segments of its parent conglomerate by now forging a new partnership with Zebra Technologies. The IT infrastructure and services company will work with the Illonois-headquartered mobile industrial device and software company to develop 5G device ecosystem technologies.

Determined to co-innovate and drive the adoption of 5G devices, NTT Data and Zebra have laid down focus areas where the two companies see significant potential for device adoption. One initial project area is aligned to enable intelligent asset tracking in industrial and enterprise deployments that provide real-time monitoring and management of assets.

Factory Functionality

Imagine a factory producing automotive parts, another manufacturing shoes, a facility devoted to confectionery or even a semi-conductor plant; with so many moving “parts” to trace and track in these environments – not to mention the performance status of the actual machines with moving parts that fashion and form these assets – industrial facilities may now have a special opportunity to ready themselves for a 5G revolution that enables us to overcome supply chain disruptions that emanate from mismanagement (or quite simply lack of visibility) on the factory floor. That, at least in part, sums up some of what these two organizations are coming together for here.

Over and above asset visibility which remains a central function here, these processes are also devoted to data analytics designed to highlight efficiencies and to provide security capabilities.

One critical barrier to private 5G adoption has been the availability of 5G devices for enterprises. This partnership will bridge this gap for connected devices in the enterprise private 5G market, which Omdia estimates will grow 35% globally over the next four years, reaching nearly $10 billion by 2028. 

NTT Data and Zebra will also focus on making it easier for organizations to access, upgrade and simplify 5G device lifecycle management and support. This collaboration will involve work touching connectivity technologies including Wi-Fi, private LTE and private 5G compatible devices.

This news follows NTT Data’s recent collaboration with Qualcomm on 5G device ecosystem development. This is a space where vendors are fond of talking about so-called Industry 4.0 applications and of course the adoption of AI at the IoT compute edge zone. Shahid Ahmed, group executive vice president for edge services at NTT Data has said that this alliance underscores the company’s dedication to giving enterprises transformative capabilities that drive edge and private 5G use cases and data-driven experiences.

Who Brings What To The Party?

In terms of who brings what, NTT has considerable scope in private 5G technology development. Zebra on the other hand has expertise in intelligent data integration, asset management and frontline coordination technologies. The two companies aim to make the low latency and high-security features of Private 5G-enabled devices accessible to frontline workers in the automotive, manufacturing, health care and logistics industries.

“Our partnership with NTT Data underscores our commitment to bring customers the latest innovations powered by Wi-Fi, private LTE and private 5G networks,” said Julie Johnson, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise mobile computing, Zebra Technologies “We’re excited to leverage the global scale of NTT Data’s capabilities to benefit our customers and be a vital part of a growing 5G device ecosystem, ensuring businesses can thrive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape.”

Device-as-a-Service

NTT Data is deploying a private 5G network throughout Hyster-Yale Group’s manufacturing operations. The Ohio-based forklift truck company is using NTT Data’s Device-as-a-Service capability to gain visibility into assets and materials and improve communications within its facilities. This networked deployment will now work with Zebra Technologies’ handheld mobile computers and tablets to track assets and materials as they enter and exit manufacturing sites, providing business intelligence dashboard information and connecting engineers, onsite teams and production lines to materials storage locations.

A perhaps unusual term that is growing in usage in environments stylized as Industrial 4.0 settings, Device-as-a-Service provides a turnkey solution for managing an entire device lifecycle. What that actually means is planning, procurement, configuration, deployment, ongoing support, analytics, repair management and device retirement, all under the stewardship of the provider, which in this case is NTT Data.