The fifth generation mobile networks will revolutionize industrial production. One of Atlas Copco’s factories in Antwerp, Belgium, and the integration lab in Sickla, Sweden, are testing 5G network technology to speed up the global shift to smart manufacturing.
With ultra-high speed and reliability, the fifth generation (5G) mobile networks will revolutionize industrial manufacturing. The dramatic increase in capacity enables data-consuming technologies like the Internet of Things, real-time monitoring and machine learning. The technology is there, the challenge is to now make it work in real, industrial settings.
In Sickla, Sweden, Atlas Copco Industrial Technique recently installed a private 5G network in the integration lab. The network will be used to develop 5G ready industrial tool solutions for customers worldwide. This is one of the first 5G implementations for industrial purposes in the world and will help put the network solutions to test.
”Today, more than 90% of our tools are connected to our customers’ systems, most of them through fixed couplings. We also provide a large number of wireless systems, based on bluetooth or wifi technology. By installing this 5G network we will be able to design, develop and test new products equipped with integrated 5G modules, and thereby support our customers on their journey towards fully connected manufacturing processes”, says Lars Eklöf, President of Atlas Copco’s Motor Vehicle Industry division.
Since spring 2019, one of Atlas Copco Compressor Technique’s production facilities in Belgium is testing a private 5G network with indoor antennas connecting the shop floor. The goal is to investigate how to best implement 5G at production units worldwide, enabling the shift to smart and automated manufacturing.
“By deploying this test network we can learn how to best connect machines wirelessly and have Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) on the shop floor, for example,” says Wouter Ceulemans, President of Atlas Copco’s Airtec division. “The really exciting use cases will come from the ultra-low latency. 4G is still not fast enough to transfer data with a low enough latency to make real-time control possible. With 5G, this delay drops to a minimum.”