Manufacturing Technology Centre trials 5G private network

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Manufacturing Technology Centre trials 5G private network

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), a facility in Coventry dedicated to supporting manufacturers to benefit from new technologies, is launching a 5G private network to help manufacturers boost productivity via 5G use cases.

MTC is launching the capability in partnership with 5G partners comprising West Midlands 5G (WM5G), Worcestershire 5G (W5G) and its technology partner BT.

The private 5G network powered by W5G and BT will be installed at MTC’s manufacturing research facility, located at its Ansty Park site.

The 5G connected workshop environment will enable enterprises of all sizes to explore multi-edge computing and robotics applications, and benefits, including a live 5G-connected robotics demonstration later in the year.

Manufacturing organisations, including SMEs, will have access to an advanced 5G-connected manufacturing facility to spearhead local manufacturing productivity and support post pandemic economic recovery.

Manufacturing in the Midlands generates more than £32bn GVA a year 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 these organisations’ supply chains.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the manufacturing sector. New Industry 4.0 technologies – driven by 5G – have the potential to power recovery by transforming manufacturing resilience and productivity. 5G enables productivity improvements by connecting sensors on machines and other assets securely and in real-time to data platforms and applications to optimise processes and equipment.

Recognising the criticality of the manufacturing sector, a group of leading 5G businesses have come together to co-invest in these pioneering trials. WM5G is the UK’s first region-wide 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 the Worcestershire 5G testbed and its strategic technology partner BT to supply and integrate the technology infrastructure required to deliver this unique showcase.

The immediate ambition is to prove the benefits that 5G services could have on the implementation of robotics and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) in a modern production line, such as an Industry 4.0 factory environment.

The longer-term aim is to develop a series of 5G use cases bringing 5G connectivity, skills, and applications to the MTC Core Research Programme, supporting its SME Digital REACH programme and offering a testbed environment for their wider customer and partner base. SME Digital REACH offers SMEs guidance and support to increase productivity through the introduction and adoption of digital manufacturing technology.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is yet another example of what a game-changer 5G is for the region, and why it was so critical we won the Government competition to become the UK’s first large-scale 5G testbed.

“Given the coronavirus pandemic and the enormous task of our economic recovery, the emergence of 5G is happening at an incredibly important time. That the new technology can have such an impact on one of our region’s largest sectors in manufacturing bodes extremely well for the future of our region. We must continue to make the most of state-of-the-art technology and use it to help turbo-charge our recovery efforts.”

Alejandra Matamoros, technology manager at the MTC, added: “Trialling and demonstrating the potential of 5G connectivity in our workshop facilities will advance MTC’s offering in digital manufacturing and automation. This will help to deliver additional realisable levels of flexibility in production for UK manufacturers and the integration of supply chains.”

The first live trial at the facility will see two robots simultaneously operating to deliver the same task and increase efficiency of factory operations.


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Simon Tonks

Owner and MD of Synium who loves his job, his life and the wondrous outdoors - especially when on a bike of any kind (but preferably on a mountain bike going downhill fast).Please get in touch if there is anything IT related I can help you with (or if you want to talk bikes :-)