A recent study found that 74% of manufacturing leaders are considering upgrading their communications networks by 2022. It’s clear that 5G – with its low latency, built-in security and high bandwidth – has a leading role to play, and projects are already underway to explore how this ground-breaking technology can benefit the manufacturing industry.
We have crossed the threshold to the next industrial revolution, with factories embracing connected devices, automation and AI – opening the door to a new world of possibilities. The factories of the future need to work more quickly and efficiently, relying on their networks to drive productivity while generating cost savings.
Integral to unlocking the potential of 5G is the work of West Midlands 5G (WM5G), established by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and government to deliver the UK’s first region-wide testbed.
WM5G delivers real benefits for people and businesses and strengthens the region’s position as the hub of the UK’s 5G ecosystem. WM5G is currently working with its development partners to undertake a range of live use cases to demonstrate how 5G can accelerate productivity in manufacturing environments.
Key amongst these is the developing use cases from two Midlands manufacturers. AE Aerospace, the first UK SME to deploy a private 5G network, are testing 5G technology to maximise machine time, locate production assets across the factory and provide detailed quality assurance, offering customers greater delivery and quality certainty.
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) near Coventry is working with WM5G technology partners Worcestershire 5G (W5G) and BT to install a first of its kind Nokia 5G stand-alone private network to test a variety of 5G solutions, including a vision inspection system with a mobile robot, a collaborative robot arm and mobile-edge computing.
“West Midlands 5G is committed to supporting the growth of the manufacturing sector by transforming productivity through the use of 5G. The trials that MTC and AE Aerospace are undertaking with us will demonstrate the value of 5G for manufacturers and show in real-time, how businesses can enhance their processes as a result of mobile connectivity. We hope the use cases will motivate others in the manufacturing sector to explore how 5G can provide solutions to enhance operational efficiency,” commented Robert Franks, Managing Director at WM5G.
The trials mark an important step in 5G innovation, supporting the aim to help British manufacturing accelerate productivity and efficiency, demonstrating how 5G can support manufacturing operations in the UK and beyond.