BT is working with the Worcestershire 5G Testbed (W5G) as its lead technology partner to accelerate its vision of smart manufacturing delivered through the UK’s first live 5G factory installation.
Building on its role in the development of the W5G Testbed over the last two years, BT is providing its expertise across 5G Private Networks, wearable devices, IoT, data analytics and mobile edge computing. The combination of these technologies will make intelligent, dynamic and fully automated manufacturing processes a reality.
BT will enable W5G to accelerate through the next phase of its development, moving it to a sustainable, scalable footing by expanding its scope to include new industry 4.0 enabled use cases. These include enabling local engineering company Worcester Bosch, and others, to boost productivity by using autonomous robots to transport products and materials, for example. The installation of collision detection sensors connected over the 5G Private Network will also help to ensure health and safety on the factory floor.
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.
“This is only possible by harnessing 5G Private Networks, IoT, data analytics and mobile edge computing. BT’s role is in making these technologies work in perfect harmony to gather and interpret the vast volumes of data generated by connected machines and turning this into real-time and actionable insight.
“We’re already leading in 5G innovation across healthcare, education, broadcasting and education. The digital transformation of manufacturing processes will be critical in rebooting the sector and driving regional regeneration across the UK. We’re really excited to be at the forefront of making this a reality.”
The UK’s first 5G factory installation has been switched on at the Worcestershire 5G Testbed, with Worcester Bosch working with BT and W5G to explore ways of boosting productivity through robotics, IoT, big data analytics and augmented reality. These technologies are running over the live Private 5G Network and edge computing infrastructure which is now being fully managed by BT.
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.”
BT will also bring the scale and expertise needed to extend the benefits of 5G Private Networks to more manufacturers in key sectors such as Aerospace and to SMEs. Further details about these industry 4.0 use cases will be announced over the coming months.
The insight gleaned from the Worcestershire 5G Testbed will be used to stimulate innovation across the manufacturing sector in the region. This will kick-start the regional growth which will be essential in driving a vibrant local economy following Covid-19 and beyond. BT will also use this insight to understand how to optimise private networking, IoT, data analytics and edge computing for the fourth industrial revolution. The data driven solutions created through the effective combination of these technologies will transform manufacturing and other industries nationally.
The testbed’s initial 5G Private Network installation has so far yielded positive results – increasing factory output by as much as two per cent.
Councillor Ken Pollock, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “If this productivity gain was applied across the whole of the UK’s manufacturing sector, it would make a significant contribution towards boosting national productivity, revitalising the manufacturing industry and stimulating the economy. This level of growth will be absolutely critical to the success of post-coronavirus Britain.”
As well as managing the 5G Private Network which uses Ericsson equipment, BT will also provide access to its world leading innovation capabilities at the EE Mobile Labs in Borehamwood. The EE Mobile Labs team, working with Ericsson, will provide the resource and capability to support the W5G Testbed. Its primary scope will include support for the 5G private Core and Radio Access Network (RAN) from Ericsson, Wide Area Network (WAN) and the Multi Access Edge Computing (MEC) environment.
BT and W5G are keen to work with more companies across Worcestershire, surrounding counties and regions to help explore how 5G Private Networks can be used to transform their operations.