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5GEM (UK): 5G Enabled Manufacturing UK

5GEM (UK) was a two-year project, started in June 2020, that was supported by the UK Government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials programme to explore use cases for 5G private networks in different manufacturing environments.  The project aimed to take advantage of the improved connectivity and reduced latency offered by 5G technology, allowing machines to communicate in near real time, providing feedback, control, analysis and remote expert support to ensure that new manufacturing processes are ready for the shop floor.  By improving the 5G evidence base for success, this would also support the future sustainability of the UK’s 5G ecosystem.

The use cases explored by 5GEM included:

Real time process analysis and control: a laser welding demonstrator at Ford Motor Company which incorporated real-time process optimisation for electric vehicle manufacturing.  The batteries and electric motors in an electric vehicle require around 1,000 welds, producing over half a million pieces of data per minute.  Data capture and analysis through wireless connectivity in the industrial environment have the potential to reduce delays, improve security and reliability, and lead to faster deployment times. 

Intelligent maintenance: vacuum furnace heat treatment with artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled predictive maintenance at TWI, working with vacuum furnace specialists Vacuum Furnace Engineering, which looked at improving the consistency and quality of components during heat treatment cycles. 

The work undertaken within 5GEM UK demonstrated how 5G can: 

  • Enable faster connectivity with reduced latency and increased data capture rates, and real-time in-process monitoring
  • Provide real-time data feedback, analysis and insights using captured data, and control of process and machines
  • Improve predictive maintenance capabilities supported by machine learning and digital twin processes
  • Demonstrate the capabilities of virtual and alternative reality using real-time processes, final quality monitoring and real-time remote operability

The project also demonstrated that collaborative working, including sharing any problems, enabled the production of tangible, useful outputs for the benefit of all.

Partners: ATS Global, Ford, HSSMI, TM Forum, TWI, Vacuum Furnace Engineering, Vodafone and the Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre (J4IC)

5GEM (UK) secured funding from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

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