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Uncovering the real-life impact of 5G in manufacturing and logistics

Posted 13 Oct 2021

In collaboration with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Digital Catapult has launched an exciting series of four webinars – Industrial 5G Uncovered. This series will explore 5G innovation in manufacturing and logistics, sharing sector specific knowledge from industry and innovators, demonstrating the latest 5G-enabled solutions and debating the biggest 5G-related questions facing industry today.

Digitalisation and automation of the UK’s manufacturing and logistics industries are quickly increasing as emerging industrial digital technologies are helping to improve levels of productivity and competitiveness in unprecedented ways. The UK is generally viewed as being somewhat behind in the uptake of advanced digital technologies across our industrial base. Industrial digital technologies including IoT sensors, robotics, virtual/augmented reality and others, although designed to enhance the capability of engineers and day to day factory and logistics operations, are not seeing enough uptake. This is partially because these tools are only as good as the technology that connects them.

Promising improved bandwidth, greater speeds and secure and customisable networks, 5G can boost the implementation of all of these technologies. These features, as well as several others, have meant that during the pandemic, as innovation and experimentation with emerging tech increased, 5G has taken centre stage, demonstrating capabilities, such as wirelessly connecting automation equipment, a range of remote operations, predicting future equipment failures during the production process to allow for predictive maintenance, improved asset tracking and virtual training. These innovative use cases are expected to help industry users to cut costs, reduce downtime, reduce carbon emissions and improve productivity.

Adrian Talbot, Head of Centre of Excellence at Ferrovial, is taking part in the first Industrial 5G Uncovered webinar to discuss how industry can work with innovators to accelerate 5G adoption. For Ferrovial, 5G is “a unifying and ubiquitous solution that could replace most or all existing comms technologies to enable smart, connected infrastructures for developers, operators and users”. Adrian points to the ability of 5G as a “foundational and mandatory technology in all new infrastructures moving forward” that is increasingly becoming commonplace within existing infrastructure.

We’re seeing many more examples across industry of companies exploring the use of 5G to facilitate this evolution, and to optimise existing operations and processes. However a number of key challenges to overcome before industry end users are able to fully enjoy and take advantage of the capabilities and benefits. Digital Catapult’s Made in 5G report noted that this included a lack of understanding of 5G capabilities, difficulties in ensuring a robust ROI business case, a lack of demonstrable industry examples and concerns around the compatibility and interoperability of mobile networks with existing industrial systems.

The Industrial 5G Testbeds & Trials programme is trying to answer some of those questions further demonstrating successful application of 5G in real life situations to support a stronger business case for adoption.

Boosting collaboration

Similarly to other national and international programmes such as WM5G, 5pring, and European Union funded projects in Horizon Europe, the Industrial 5G Testbeds and Trials programme (I5GTT), funded by DCMS works to overcome some of those barriers and demonstrate the value of 5G to industry, helping to make the UK a global leader in both its adoption and application. For Colin Evison, Head of Innovation at BAM Nuttall, this collaboration is key: “The community of SMEs who are developing new 5G enabled technology will allow us to further improve how we deliver civil engineering infrastructure,” he said. “The industrial application of 5G networks, in particular the private stand alone networks we are currently deploying, have the potential to greatly increase the effectiveness of digital tools currently used in BAM.”

Digital Catapult is coordinating the I5GTT programme, bringing together the learnings from a number of industry-focused projects which are demonstrating the potential of 5G to unlock innovation, as well as creating new collaborations between startups, scaleups and corporates, and proving the case of 5G in an industrial setting.

Industrial 5G Uncovered

The first event in the Industrial 5G Uncovered webinar series will explore demystifying 5G in the context of manufacturing, logistics, smart cities and construction. What exciting and new applications enabled by 5G exist in these areas? From network slicing, to security in ports, and vendor diversification, this event will also showcase how 5G underpins other advanced technologies – such as artificial intelligence – to improve data analysis including traffic insights, and how 5G can trigger new business models.

The I5GTT programme is all about providing first hand insights from manufacturing and logistics businesses at the cutting edge of adoption of 5G enabled solutions.

This session, which brings together experts Innovate UK, DCMS, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial and Transport for Greater Manchester, will explore the ways in which businesses of all sizes can work together to accelerate the digital transformation and adoption of 5G.

Register now for the Industrial 5G Uncovered webinar on 19 October: