Lewisville, TX is a thriving suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area and it is home to one of the most innovative projects in the short-lived history of 5G. Notable wireless vendor Ericsson has created an innovative, smart, large factory that is using the latest generation in wireless to get the job done. The new factory began producing Ericsson’s Street Macro mmWave 5G product in February and now that same product is helping the company run its operations.
The 5G product uses a private network connecting on 28 GHz spectrum and LTE frequencies with an on-site core. It also uses other various wireless technologies and advanced data processing. So far, Ericsson’s factory is a testament to what 5G can do for manufacturing with the company developing various use cases already. Most notably, autonomous mobile robots, which are common for factories and warehouses, are now able to connect on Ericsson’s 5G network.
“We’ve equipped them with 5G modems so that we can connect to our own 5G network,” said the leader of Ericsson’s 5G factor, Erik Simonsson. “Where 5G is helping us there, is that in these mobile robot environments, you typically have different handover points in Wi-Fi, and you have a little bit of lag. These are technologies that will develop over time, and I think we will see more and more speed and productivity from that type of equipment, versus what you would have without that technology.”
5G is fixing a lot of problems all at once that previous wireless communications weren’t able to resolve. Speed is an obvious one with 5G bringing faster speeds than ever before, but capacity is also important. Thanks to 5G networks, more data can be sent and processed. Additionally, latency has plagued wireless forever and while a fraction of a second may not seem like much time when you are producing a product or having a computer drive a car, or conducting a surgery from the other side of the country, delays can have costly consequences. With 5G, latency levels continue to reduce and allow for real-time outcomes to be produced from connected devices.
Ericsson is also using mixed reality (MR) applications to provide support from remote locations. Working remotely was always on the table, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this notion for many companies. Even after the pandemic, many employers now see the value in working from home and it has become more of a shift in operations than a passing business trend after all. Higher video quality, less lag, and high-speed video transfer are all in focus for the Swedish telecom giant. “In COVID, this has been and will continue to be important,” said Simonsson.
This is highlighted further because of the lack of accessibility for various reasons related to COVID-19 to its factory. Ericsson is learning better ways to get more out of 5G, its machinery, and more. Including building 5G connectivity into robots and integrating sensors and data from sensors into its operations without having to rely on cables or additional WiFi hotspots.
“In manufacturing, you have a lot of problems to solve, that’s kind of the nature of our business,” said Simonsson. “But what we see now when technology like these 5G are becoming more and more available, is that we can get a lot quicker at solving problems. We get a lot more flexible in how we can move equipment around. That’s what excites me, especially when you have production facilities that need to move a lot of equipment around and need to be able to have this speed in operations…It also brings this joy of technology development into manufacturing, so when you see engineers working with this and solving these problems, that’s super exciting to me.”
Source: RCR Wireless