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AE Aerospace launches Industry 4.0 trials on private 5G network


The UK-based SME is working with BT as part of government-backed 5G initiatives.

AE Aerospace, a manufacturer in England’s West Midlands, is the first UK SME to deploy a 5G private network, working with government-backed inititatives West Midlands 5G (WM5G), and Worcestershire 5G (W5G) and its technology partner BT. The 5G network is provided by BT’s mobile arm, EE.

AE Aerospace operates a high precision engineering facility that produces parts for customers including Rolls Royce, Raytheon UK and Moog.

With its partners, it will trial 5G in three new 5G use cases.

To maximise machine time

Or in the jargon, machine-time servitisation – 5G and sensors deployed across the factory floor to connect machines wirelessly, supporting high volume data capture. Better understanding of production flows and use of machine time will enable AE Aerospace to offer machine time to its clients.

Mobile asset location and calibration tracking

This will provide up to 100% assurance that its parts have been machined and measured to specification.

Production units have many surfaces, holes and screw threads that must be measured manually with gauges. By tagging all the gauges, their location can be tracked and identified in real time over 5G. AE Aerospace will increase the speed and accuracy of those measurements.

Product quality assurance

The aim is to re-working or replacing components damaged in transit – the 5G network can convey real-time ultra-high-definition image comparisons to ensure product quality assurance prior to AE Aerospace shipping out products to customers.

AE Aerospace aspires to set a precedent of ‘on time, in full’ delivery.

SME ecosystem

Manufacturing in the Midlands generates more than £32 billion gross value-add annually and accounts for 22% of jobs.

Despite the prevalence of large manufacturers in the Midlands, most of the value of the output in manufacturing comes from the SME businesses which make up those organisations’ supply chains. 
The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the manufacturing sector. The hope is Industry 4.0 technologies – including 5G – can help recovery by boosting productivity.
WM5G is a regional 5G innovation company and forms part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), 5G Tests and Trials programme. These trials are the first projects in WM5G’s Manufacturing testbed.

WM5G will be supporting these trials working closely with W5G and its strategic technology partner BT.

Lessons and best practice from these trials will be shared with the region’s manufacturing industry to help accelerate the adoption of 5G technology within the sector. Any efficiencies and productivity gains that AE Aerospace and WM5G prove from these trials could also be replicated across the sector to support the region’s economic growth.