UK launches first 5G smart factory as part of industrial trial

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The UK has launched its first 5G smart factory as part of an industrial trial examining how British factories can be modernised.

Bosch’s factory in Worcester has been fitted with sensors and 5G-based technology for monitoring its operations.

The factory will be combining IoT sensors and 5G for preventative maintenance. Data analytics will help to predict failures before they occur.

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Carl Arntzen, CEO at Worcester Bosch, said:

“We are delighted to have switched 5G on in our factory and look forward to measuring the productivity gains that will follow.

It’s important to our business to have the real-time element 5G brings so that we can react in real time in the factory environment to mitigate any losses in output and protect and grow our business bottom line.”

The trial is being overseen by the government-backed Worcestershire 5G Consortium who call it a ‘landmark step’ towards smarter factories.

Other members of the consortium include Huawei, BT, and O2. Huawei’s involvement has been controversial given the ongoing debate over whether the Chinese telecoms giant poses a national security risk.

Mark Stansfeld, Chair of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed & Trials, comments:

“Going live with the UK’s first 5G factory trials marks a monumental step in delivering the vision of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed to bring a productivity increase to the manufacturing sector and the UK economy.

We are proud of the collaboration between all consortium members in making this happen and will be working closely to deliver the expected results from the live 5G trials.”

Six projects will be undertaken by the consortium led by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), universities, and local authorities.

Each testbed will receive between £2 million and £5 million in government grants, as part of a total investment of £41m from private sector and other public sector funding.

Trials will test end-to-end application performance, taking initial measures of 5G speeds and latency. The consortium highlights 5G’s reduced latency, enhanced speed, and increased reach is enabling new applications previous generations couldn’t handle.

A recent study from Ericsson estimated 5G-powered smart factories will create an £87bn market for telecoms firms by 2026.

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