Electric micro-car company, e.GO, is showcasing 5G-powered manufacturing in action at its Aachen factory complex.
At e.GO’s Factory 1, where the e.GO Life model is manufactured, Vodafone has deployed a private network, incorporating 5G Core and 5G New Radio solutions from Ericsson’s 5G Platform. The network provides secure and almost real-time data networking across the production chain, covering digital material management, autonomous vehicle control and more.
Günther Schuh, CEO, e.GO Mobile AG, says the key benefits of the using the 5G private network are increased assembly speed and greater reliability as well as better oversight through constant access to production information.
Schuh said the plant is now a “true…Industry 4.0 factory,” being fully networked and using connectivity to link the physical and digital.
The network makes use of 36 antennas across the 8,500 square-metre facility and uses 5G technologies including network slicing and mobile edge computing. The partners say the network delivers “gigabit bandwidth” and latency of just a few milliseconds.
Thanks to the connectivity, production materials are automatically identified and delivered to each car at the correct point in the assembly process. Instead of the cars travelling along a production line, as they do in a traditional manufacturing environment, autonomous vehicles move them along the stations to speed up the process.
In future, e.GO plans to use autonomous forklift trucks and small trains to move materials between the warehouse and the production hall.
- Related: A guide to 5G and the connected car.
Hannes Ametsreiter, Head of Vodafone Germany, commented, "Our automotive industry needs a fast network directly where the newest and most innovative cars are built. Data is an important fuel for modern automobile production.”
Arun Bansal, President and Head of Europe & Latin America, Ericsson, added, “5G is the key to opening the door to a new era in manufacturing productivity, speed, security and efficiency – and the automotive industry is a prime example of the beneficiaries.”
Research earlier this year from Barclays found that 5G could boost business revenues in the UK by up to £15.7 billion by 2025. Manufacturing was highlighted as one of four sectors likely to reap the most substantial returns from the technology.
Ericsson’s study The 5G Business Potential estimates that by 2026, the manufacturing market will be worth 2026 for telecom operators. This represents a seven per cent revenue growth on current service revenue forecasts.