Thu, 25 June, 2020
TWI are assisting Ford, as they become the first car manufacturer to sign up for a private 5G network in the UK.
The private network is to be installed in September and will link Ford with TWI’s Cambridge site in order to allow us to work together on the welding of electric batteries. Battery welding is a challenge for vehicle manufacturers as each motor and battery required for an electric vehicle needs around 1,000 welds and could generate half a million pieces of data every minute.
This amount of welding and data cannot be supported by existing factory systems so 5G has been chosen as a system to assist in line with Industry 4.0.
As part of this same project, TWI is working with vacuum furnace specialists VFE on a brazing application using 5G technology. The aim of this is to improve the consistency and quality of components during heat treating cycles. The work will also demonstrate the challenges of integrating 5G while also showing how integration works with adjacent machines and manufacturing execution systems (MES).
Chris White, Ford’s 5GEM project manager, has noted that 5G has added weight to the case for investing in UK industry as the effects of COVID-19 and Brexit on the economy are yet to be fully determined.
He explained of 5G, “It is really significant in anchoring that manufacturing capability in the UK,” adding, “we are not making any kind of promises of commitment in that respect, but the funding we have received is about that capability.”
It is believed that the automotive industry will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of 5G by providing connections for autonomous vehicles and speeding up production.
The UK is working to take the lead in 5G networks and Ford’s network is due to use equipment from Ericsson to support their electric vehicle manufacturing.