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Ericsson and Digital Catapult to unlock 5G potential with smart manufacturing partners

Posted 24 Sep 2020

Three leading UK manufacturers have joined an Industrial 5G Accelerator programme as part of a collaboration between 5G technology leader Ericsson and Digital Catapult, the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre.

Seagate, Siemens and Tharsus have joined the programme to co-develop individual use cases with the aim of unlocking business efficiencies through the use of advanced wireless technologies and proving the potential of 5G in a critical business sector.

All three companies will be working alongside Ericsson, Digital Catapult and selected UK mobile network operators to identify smart manufacturing opportunities that focus on improvements for productivity, flexibility and connectivity in an industrial setting. 5G-powered technologies such as robotics, augmented reality (AR), condition-based monitoring, asset tracking and predictive maintenance will be used throughout the individual use cases.

As a key technology set to underpin the global transition to Industry 4.0 and drive global economic growth, the Industrial 5G Accelerator is a bespoke, challenge-led programme designed to accelerate the adoption of 5G within UK industries and help companies understand how 5G can transform products and services.

The smart manufacturing market is set to grow to US$1 trillion according to a recent report from ABI Research, with 4.3 billion wireless connections predicted by 2030. Over a 5-year period, a U.K.-based warehouse operator that adopts private cellular enabled Industry 4.0 technologies could realize a 13.0% increase in gross profit margin and an operational cost saving of $220.9 million.

Iain Thornhill, Vice President, Service Providers & IoT, Ericsson UK & Ireland, said: “Technology has a vital role to play as the world recovers from COVID-19 and 5G presents a great opportunity for the UK to boost British businesses, transform its enterprise sector and build a world leading digital economy. Through our dedicated network portfolio, we are providing business critical industries with highly reliable, scalable and easy to deploy connectivity solutions, helping to accelerate 5G adoption across the country and position the UK as a leading 5G nation.”

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, said: “We want to ensure that the best aspects of technology adoption continue post-pandemic and drive new value into our economy. Collaboration remains fundamental to successfully achieving this, and with the addition of these three leading industrial businesses, the Industrial 5G Accelerator is in prime position to capitalise on the best of UK manufacturing skills and innovation. The road to embedding 5G fully into an industrial environment might be a long one, but this project is a big leap forward in terms of demonstrating the transformative capability of 5G for UK industry.”

Ian Poulett, Business Manager for Industrial Communications at Siemens Digital Industries said: “Industrial 5G enables the flexible factory of tomorrow. With its high data rates, reliable and powerful broadband transmission, and ultra-short latencies it will enable a significant boost in efficiency and flexibility in industrial value creation. With OFCOM creating opportunities with its shared spectrum initiative for local use this enables a wide range of sectors to use wireless connectivity to benefit their business and customers. Only with local private networks will the maximum benefit be achieved. That’s why Siemens is embracing this new communication standard right from the start and is supporting its standardisation and industrial implementation by developing a corresponding portfolio.”

Dave Swan, CTO, Tharsus, said: “As an organisation we are driven by solving real world problems with the most appropriate technology rather than simply finding potential applications for technology. To be effective at this we need to have a broad understanding of what is possible and a strong collaborative network with deep technical expertise to work with. We are excited to be involved in this Industrial 5G Accelerator programme because it allows us to understand and characterise 5G in a supported environment and with the recognised leaders in the sector. We can experiment and test with it so we become experienced in what makes a good or a poor potential use case for 5G. This will allow to be confident that when a great use case project presents, we and our widened network will deliver”

Seagate Technology is participating in the programme to understand the capabilities of 5G in the manufacturing environment. The company recently commissioned a report conducted by research firm IDC “Rethink Data: Put more of your data to work – from Edge to Cloud”, which reviews industry challenges in data management and solutions. The value that a company derives from data directly affects it success. Winning businesses must have strong mass data operations. In a manufacturing environment, the 5G accelerator programme enables a greater understanding of how 5G bandwidth enables Machine to Machine (M2M) communications, harnessing the value of data and enabling future collaborative robotics, AI and edge resources. Seagate Technology is a world leader in data storage and management solutions for over 40 years.