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TWI Unites with Ford and Vodafone to Trial 5G Technology

Mon, 09 March, 2020

TWI is collaborating with Vodafone and the Ford Motor Company to trial the use of 5G technology in manufacturing, delivering connectivity between machines to provide real-time feedback, control, analysis and remote expert support. The Vision for 5GEM is to develop testbed trials at Ford’s facility in Dunton and in TWI’s in Cambridge. The outputs from our demonstrators will show how 5G can:

  • Enable faster connectivity with reduced latency and increasing the data capture rate,
  • Enable real-time monitoring of machines and real-time in-process monitoring,
  • Provide real-time analysis and insights of captured data,
  • Provide real-time data feedback and control of process and machines,
  • Improve predictive maintenance capabilities and digital twin processes,
  • Demonstrate the capabilities of VR and AR using real-time processes, final quality monitoring and real-time remote operability

The 5GEM, 5G Enabled Manufacture Project has been offered a grant of £3,885,938m, with one 5G mobile network to be installed at TWI Cambridge and another at Ford’s Dunton facility. These testbeds will showcase the value of 5G to the manufacturing industry by increasing efficiency and productivity in the manufacturing process. TWI will assist Ford in their welding process connection work used for the manufacture of electric vehicles. TWI will also support Vacuum Furnace Engineering in connecting heat treatment equipment.

The project will also be supported by ATS, TM Forum, HSSMI and Lancaster University, who will work on associated challenges such as cyber security, scale-up, standards, machine learning and developing 5G technology for an industrial environment. There will be opportunities for new partners to be invited into the project as required during the first year.

Falling under the banner of Industry 4.0, the 5GEM project aims to demonstrate how industry can draw upon the improved connectivity offered by 5G technology as an offshoot of the ‘Internet of Things.’ This is made possible by the reduced latency offered by 5G, which allows machines to communicate in near real time.

The 5GEM project is part of the UK government’s £65 million of funding for 5G mobile broadband trials across a range of areas. These latest trials come as part of an overall £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme that began in 2018.

The UK Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden MP, spoke on the initiative to say, “We’re determined to make the UK a world-leader in 5G and deliver on our promise to improve connections for people and businesses across the country. Today we’re announcing new funding to seize the new opportunities this technology will offer us. This includes seeing how it could create new jobs in the countryside, make businesses more productive and unleash even more ideas in our cutting-edge creative industries.”

You can see a video, commissioned by Vodafone, about the 5G work we are undertaking alongside Ford, here.

For more information please email: