West Midlands 5G (WM5G) has been established by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and UK government to develop the UK’s first regional 5G testbed and accelerate the roll-out and adoption of 5G throughout the region.
In the advancement of digital technology and 5G in manufacturing, you may have heard the term ‘Industry 4.0’. Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution and is the wider term for describing the move to cyber physical systems and technology-led manufacturing environments.
How to: develop an Industry 4.0 vision
Organisations must decide where they see Industry 4.0 making the most impact across their individual operations. Start by mapping out your business strategy and ‘vision’ for Industry 4.0:
- Assess your current challenges and identify initial improvement points
- Evaluate your current digital maturity versus where you believe you need to be; set clear goals to ensure you can map the progress you make to close this gap.
- Identify and prioritise the measures and technology that will bring the most value to your business and ensure these align with your overarching strategy.
- Gather insights on digitalisation from organisations that have already tried and tested, such as WM5G and Make UK.
- Gain commitment to your approach from company leadership and across your organisation.
- Benchmark against your competitors and partners in the supply chain
- Ensure there is an organisation-wide openness to new technology, ideas, and processes.
Alongside analysing business priorities and planning for the future, organisations should undertake a wider education piece internally. This will set clear expectations as to the art of the possible and how colleagues can support this progress.
- Start small, with pilot projects to establish a proof of concept and demonstrate return on investment. Not every project will succeed, but they will all help you learn and develop your approach.
- Design pragmatically to compensate for standards or infrastructure that may not currently exist. Test for your ideal situation, not your current one.
- Collaborate with digital experts or leaders outside of your organisation. This could include start-ups, universities, or public sector organisations like West Midlands 5G (WM5G).
- Find a network provider that can help you or consider upgrading your IT infrastructure. We’ll be talking more about this soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
How to: test connectivity environments
Once you have an idea of how you would like to improve your operations and begin your Industry 4.0 journey, it’s important to test the technology within a connected environment.
5PRING, an organisation formed by a consortium of West Midlands 5G (WM5G), O2, Deloitte, Digital Catapult and Wayra, has officially opened the UK’s first 5G commercial innovation centres. Located in Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Coventry, the innovation centres are fully functional 5G Testbed spaces to test solutions for real-world deployment. The spaces are available for all businesses to use and provides the opportunity for disruptive organisations to develop and test new applications.
To read the full how-to guide and learn more, please visit: www.wm5g.org.uk/projects/manufacturing/