Following on from the launch of the UK’s first 5G factory trial at the Worcestershire 5G testbed, BT has announced that it will be the lead technology partner for the testbed, a role which will allow it to help explore the potential of smart manufacturing, aiming to improve productivity through things like robotics and augmented reality, and usher in Industry 4.0.
It’s a role that’s a natural fit for BT, given that the company already helped set up the testbed, and has a 5G network and the relevant expertise.
Now it will use that expertise (including knowledge of 5G private networks, wearable devices, the Internet of Things, data analytics and mobile edge computing), to make “intelligent, dynamic and fully automated manufacturing processes a reality”.
What does that mean? Think autonomous robots transporting materials and products, collision detection sensors to improve health and safety in factories, and more.
From Worcester to the world
These trials, which will initially benefit Worcester Bosch’s factory, should eventually help other businesses, with BT claiming that the insights gained could “stimulate innovation” from the manufacturing sector in the region, and ultimately help transform manufacturing and other industries nationally.
Already the testbed is off to a promising start - its initial 5G private network installation has increased factory output by 2%, and that productivity boost may well grow once 5G is used for additional smart manufacturing functions, such as those highlighted above.
Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT’s Enterprise business, said: “Working with W5G and Worcester Bosch, we’re creating a smart factory where machines can learn and adapt to changes on the factory floor as they happen, and make instant, autonomous decisions to optimise the production line.”
These are examples of some of the big benefits of 5G that go beyond just faster data for consumers, and this could help all sorts of industries. Indeed, BT claims that it will also help bring the benefits of 5G private networks to companies in key sectors such as Aerospace and to SMEs.
This could mean a complete transformation for industry, and bring about the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).