BT teams up with Ericsson to create UK’s first smart 5G factory

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BT is working with the government-backed Worcestershire 5G Testbed (W5G) as its lead technology partner – production up 2% so far.

BT has been involved in the development of the W5G Testbed over the last two years. Ericsson is providing the private 5G network.

Now BT will provide “expertise in 5G private networks, wearable devices, IoT, data analytics and mobile edge computing”.

These technologies are expected to make “an intelligent, dynamic and fully automated manufacturing processes a reality”.

New boilers

The factory in question is that of local engineering company Worcester Bosch, which makes domestic boilers to heat water.

It intends to boost productivity using autonomous robots to transport products and materials, for example. The testbed’s initial 5G private network installation so far has increased factory output by up to 2%.

The installation of collision detection sensors connected over the 5G private network will also help to ensure health and safety on the factory floor.

Learning curve

Carl Arntzen, CEO Worcester Bosch, said: “We have learnt an awful lot within the W5G Testbed, both about the 5G network itself, but most importantly about the skills and competencies we need in-house, and what data to stream in order to develop a real-time understanding of the behaviour of various machines.

“We are very eager to continue this learning and are confident we can travel much further on this journey, deliver the productivity gains we predicted, and go much further in developing the smart factory of the future. We intend to play a key role in making the fourth industrial revolution a reality.”

Regional input

The insight gleaned from the Worcestershire 5G Testbed will be used to stimulate innovation across the manufacturing sector in the region.

BT is looking to introduce 5G private networks to more manufacturers in sectors like Aerospace and to small- and medium-sized enterprises. Details will be announced in the coming months.

BT will also provide access to the EE Mobile Labs in Borehamwood, working with Ericsson, to support the W5G Testbed. Its primary scope will include support for the 5G private core and RAN from Ericsson, WAN and the multi-access edge computing.