|Denis Brunetti, president of Ericsson Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos |
As we have seen in other global markets, initial use cases of 5G following the commercial launch in Vietnam are expected to involve enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access. For instance, South Korea launched live commercial 5G networks in April 2019 and reached one million 5G subscribers in just two months. We estimate that the number of 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband will reach 1.9 billion by the end of 2024, with North America and Northeast Asia expected to lead the 5G uptake.
As a critical national infrastructure and innovation platform, 5G promises to deliver significant benefits for industries and societies like never before. Ericsson partnered with Telia and Einride to showcase driverless trucks through enhanced connectivity based on 5G at the DB Schenker facility in Jönköping, Sweden. This marks the commencement of a paradigm shift for the transport industry enabled by 5G and is likely to power a new world in which fleet management is taken to the next level, wherein it is fully connected and automated.
The manufacturing industry is evolving fast and industry leaders are looking to have increased flexibility in the production automation and assembly processes whilst also reducing personnel safety risks. This is particularly valid for emerging economies like Vietnam, a country which has experienced rapid industrialisation over the past three decades and is one of the preferred manufacturing hubs for multinational companies in Southeast Asia.
Automotive 5G manufacturing production is now a reality for German electric microcar company e.GO Mobile AG at its Aachen complex, enabled by 5G connectivity from Ericsson and Vodafone Germany. Ericsson is also teaming up with Telefónica Germany to enable 5G car production via a private network for Mercedes-Benz at the company’s Sindelfingen plant in southern Germany. The 5G network will enable Mercedes-Benz to boost flexibility and improve production precision and efficiency as industry digitalisation increasingly becomes a reality in car production.
Factories of the future
Currently, most use cases in manufacturing sites are based on legacy and wired connections. In a 5G era, factories will be connected on fully scalable, wireless 5G networks where all production systems and machines will operate and transfer large amounts of data in milliseconds on secure data streams. Connected Factories, where wirelessly connected machines and workforce can instantaneously collect, analyse, and distribute data in real-time, will gain precedence.
Cellular IoT, an inherent 5G characteristic, will yield many advantages that will optimise safety, productivity, and flexibility for manufacturers. Connectivity issues, such as insufficient bandwidth, speed, and latency will be addressed by 5G’s ultra-low latency characteristics and high throughput.
Connected cameras and sensing devices can provide feedback to control centres and enable skilled staff to monitor and steer manufacturing remotely. Augmented and virtual reality-based tools can help technicians remotely identify faults in production lines and troubleshoot them in a timely manner.
It also helps designers simulate lifelike prototypes of the auto designs or models to minutely examine alterations required, if any, thus saving huge costs, time, and energy.
The 5G wireless connectivity will make the seamless operation of robotics a reality, where a large network of sensors enables predictive maintenance of robots on the factory floor. For robots to be able to interact with their environment in real-time, massive amounts of information will have to be transferred instantly.
With the enhanced network speed about 10-100 times faster than 4G and latency of just one to two milliseconds, robots can be controlled, monitored, and reconfigured remotely. Connected automated guided vehicles (AGV) can dispatch components from warehouses to production lines and communicate simultaneously with the control room to optimise routes, save time, and eliminate potential losses.
Ericsson collaborated with Audi and sensor manufacturer SICK to launch such AGVs that can operate and manoeuvre safely and wirelessly around the workspace, working in harmony with the human workforce.
Walking the talk
While doing trials on 5G technology in different parts of the world, we have also adopted the benefits of 5G and digitalisation within Ericsson’s own production operations. In partnership with the Nordic telecom operator Telia, we have brought AGVs, AR, and a huge number of sensors to our manufacturing facility in Tallinn, Estonia, via a dedicated cellular network.
This network has the capacity to handle thousands of devices, which can be redeployed as factory layouts are changed. This helps bring in the capacity, customisation, and control needed to scale and secure the connected factory, providing an overall improvement in manufacturing operations.
Ericsson has extended its global supply chain with its first fully-automated smart factory in the US. The factory is part of Ericsson’s global supply chain, securing fast and agile deliveries meeting customer requirements. The factory has now started production and will be fully operational later this year.
The initial product is the Street Macro, a complete base station that enables smooth, fast, and cost-effective 5G deployments. The smart factory is powered by Ericsson 5G solutions tailored for the industrial environment. Fast and secure 5G connectivity will enable agile operations and flexible production, enabling Industry 4.0 standards to be implemented. It also readies our operations for all the promised benefits of 5G technology.