At BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany, more than 5,300 employees are supported by autonomous vehicles that transport thousands of tools and spare parts across the factory floor every minute.
This requires a strong, reliable connection, and, for the safety of the workers, positioning technology.
Working with Nokia, we’re testing a high-precision 5G positioning system in live conditions for the first time.
Using 5G and Edge Computing technology, we will be able to locate machines, tools, cars and spare parts at any time across 4,500 square meters of space in both the assembly hall and in the logistics centre.
The positions are calculated in real-time using time and angle-based measurements. This means that any object equipped with 5G can be located, improving the factory’s processes and ensuring greater quality control.
In the industrial environment, the exact location of objects is particularly challenging. Walls, machines and technical systems must be taken into account and 5G antennas must be precisely aligned.
Working with BMW, this trial is helping us refine the technology in practice so that we can develop it further for us in future campus networks and industrial devices.
Driving innovation with Škoda Auto
In Mladá Boleslav, Škoda Auto has one of the largest car production plants in the Czech Republic.
Experimenting with a 5G mobile private network (MPN), Škoda Auto is seeing how it can make the business more flexible and efficient – starting with automated car parking.
Currently it needs drivers on site to move the manufactured cars to the parking lot. Using MPN, it will be able to do this without driver intervention using only automatically controlled trolleys.
Making its robots, machines and sensors able to communicate across the factory, the manufacturer will also be able to improve its processes and minimise machine downtime further with predictive maintenance and optical inspections during body construction.
In the future, Škoda Auto plans to use the technology to create a real-time digital twin, where teams can communicate using 3D objects in augmented reality.
Manufacturing electric engines with Ford
In the UK, Ford is using the same technology to nail down how it builds electric engines.
Building one engine for one vehicle requires over 1,000 individual welds, generating more than half a million pieces of data per minute. This data needs to be analysed in real-time to check if any adjustments are needed.
Fortunately, an MPN can keep up. Offering a reliable, quick and secure connection capable of crunching the data, it can support the production line and flag issues or maintenance requirements immediately, transforming the production of electric batteries.
Looking ahead, Ford wants to create greater flexibility in car construction to support future demands, such as more customisation in cars.
We caught up with the team at Dunton, in Essex, to find out more:
As flexibility and agility become critical to organisations everywhere, 5G in manufacturing can deliver the connectivity and visibility needed to support quick and efficient change. It can also unlock other next-gen technologies, like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence.
For these car manufacturers, it is providing a new way to access data and streamline manufacturing processes, preparing them for the world of tomorrow.
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