1. Please can you tell UK5G about your business.
Ubisense uses real-time location tracking data to give industrial systems an idea about what’s happening in the physical world. So, we figure out where people are, where objects are in the factory process and watch how they interact with each other, and then we use that understanding to make the factory business systems smarter. This allows factories to operate in a more optimal and efficient way.
2. How important is digital connectivity for the work you do with the manufacturing sector?
Very! We’re part of the industrial approach called Industry 4.0, which is all about connecting industrial systems that previously didn’t communicate: digital connectivity is key to that. Everything we do—in terms of gathering real-time data, processing it and effecting change in the factory—relies on being able to send data digitally within these systems.
3. Have you trialled 5G yet?
We’ve been working in a 5G testbed, set up by CW (Cambridge Wireless). A lot of our customers were thinking about deploying private 5G networks in their factories and so we saw this as a brilliant opportunity to start working with 5G hands-on. We were keen to see how well it works in terms of performance and how easy it is going to be to connect to our sensors.
4. What have been your initial observations?
Very positive - it is a class above any other kind of wireless network that is suitable for factories. It is so different to traditional Wi-Fi; they’re like chalk and cheese! 5G’s bandwidth, low latency and ability to reliably move data is excellent. Its performance lives up to the hype. Going forward, it’s absolutely got the right properties for these high-performance use cases.
We’re optimistic that it’s going to make a real impact when our customers deploy it. Manufacturers tend to be a conservative bunch with digital systems so it was especially important that we were able to try it out for ourselves. If connectivity doesn’t work, factories stop making stuff, which is terrible! Seeing 5G behaving as promised has provided us with a lot of confidence, which we can now take back to our clients. The 5G networks are going to be able to support these mission-critical operations in an ultra-reliable way. Now we’ll be able to say “Hey, we’re 5G ready!”, which is really exciting.
5. How important do you think 5G is going to be for the manufacturing industry?
Crucial, I think. To make the most of these digital transformation opportunities, we really need the ultra-reliable high-bandwidth network that 5G provides. Going wireless in manufacturing environments is really important. Companies are moving towards a world in which they’re producing smaller, more customised batches and creating more options for consumers. This means we need to reconfigure our factories more often, and 5G will be a key part of that.