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Industrial 5G Testbeds and Trials

The DCMS funded programme will demonstrate the value of 5G to industry and help to make the UK a global leader in its adoption and application

The UK has a unique opportunity to take a crucial global leadership role in determining the evolution of 5G adoption, while driving its early integration into key sectors of the UK economy. Digital Catapult is coordinating the Industrial 5G Testbeds and Trials programme on behalf of the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The programme sets out to demonstrate the value of 5G beyond enhanced mobile broadband by targeting industry focused use cases in manufacturing and logistics to:

  • Explore the potential for efficiency and productivity benefits
  • Help make the UK a global leader in the adoption and application of 5G technology
  • Help the UK lead the development of the implementation and standards around 5G

To achieve the goals of DCMS’ Industrial 5G Testbeds and Trials programme, Digital Catapult has established:

  • The UK National Innovation Centre of Excellence for Industrial 5G
  • The UK National Technical Centre of Excellence for Industrial 5G

These centres enable coordinated learnings between projects, to support collaboration and encourage sharing of common challenges, solutions and best practices, as well as working on a national level to drive innovation and technical capabilities across industrial sectors.

The scope of Technical Coordination is embodied in the following technical challenges:

  • Developing 5G to support specific industries involved in the projects.
  • Availability of 5G-enabled components.
  • Gaps in 5G standards.
  • Spectrum and operator models.
  • Trust, safety and security.
  • Establishing a common language.

As part of the objective to unlock technically-underpinned innovation, Digital Catapult will support the projects in identifying additional use cases and designing an open call process to engage with the national 5G ecosystem.

What is Industrial 5G?

5G is the latest generation of mobile communications, following previous iterations of mobile connectivity including 2G, 3G and 4G. 5G provides connectivity that is significantly faster, with lower latency (delay), more reliable connectivity, has more capacity for data transmission, and the possibility for private networks, amongst other benefits.

As commercial services for consumer usage are beginning to be rolled out by mobile network operators and on mobile devices in the UK, so are opportunities for 5G in business settings, one of the most notable of which is in the area of manufacturing and logistics, as identified in Digital Catapult’s Made in 5G report. The UK manufacturing sector is currently in the midst of a digital transformation and beginning to engage with industrial digital technologies including 5G to benefit their businesses as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial 5G Testbeds and Trials programme is currently working with manufacturing stakeholders to progress this adoption of 5G and examples of the projects follow below.

The Industrial 5G portfolio

The following projects were awarded funding and form the Industrial 5G portfolio:

5G ENCODE (Led by Zeetta Networks)

Consortium partners: Zeetta, National Composites Centre, Telefonica, Toshiba, Solvay, University of Bristol, Plataine, Mativision

This project is developing a private 5G network implemented at NCC to support three industrial use cases to improve:

  • Productivity and effectiveness in process control of composite design and manufacture
  • Interactive augmented reality (AR) for training, monitoring and maintenance
  • Asset tracking across multiple sites and locations
  • Industrial system management.

5GEM (Led by Ford)

Consortium partners: Ford, Vodafone, Vacuum Furnace Engineering, ATS, TM-Forum, HSSMI, TWI, Lancaster University

This project focuses on the use of 5G in manufacturing to interactively connect machines allowing for real-time feedback, control, analysis, and remote expert support. Vodafone will design and implement a mobile private network that will be installed in Ford Motor Company’s Dunton facility and TWI Cambridge, respectively, and interconnect them with each other.

The use-cases are focused on a laser welding machine and a vacuum furnace, the opportunities that 5G offers and the enablers it has to provide. They include:

  • Real-time monitoring and control
  • Condition/status monitoring
  • Remote support
  • Quality monitoring

For more information please contact the Digital Catapult industrial 5G team at [email protected]