Testbeds & trials

5G Factory of the Future

  • Started on 1 Aug 2020

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  • Total project value: £9,517,019
  • DCMS funding: £4,793,162
  • Project location: North West

The project aims to develop integrated solutions to some of the key challenges to deploying 5G technologies in manufacturing, using 5G to test use cases such as robotic assembly, reconfigurable product assembly lines and distributed and shared VR/AR. The programme will establish a primary site at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West and secondary sites in BAE Systems Warton and AMRC Sheffield.

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Austin Cook, Lead Engineer for Emerging Technologies & Systems at BAE Systems said:

"5G technology is core to enabling the next generation of digital manufacturing processes and the acceleration of digital technology adoption across the manufacturing sector. The 5G FoF programme will drive forward holistic connectivity and unlock the potential of industrial digitisation. It will define a new paradigm for how future factories will operate enabling connectivity and business agility both across manufacturing operations and beyond into the supply chain.

The transformative potential of 5G technology will be developed and demonstrated via a strong consortium, including the UK Catapult Network and the BAE Systems Factory of the Future which is applying game-changing digital technologies to advance manufacturing on the UK’s next generation combat aircraft system, Tempest.

More about the Factory of the Future 5G Project

The 5G Factory of the Future project brings together industrial and academic leaders from the manufacturing and telecommunications sectors to establish a 5G manufacturing testbed. The programme will develop integrated solutions for key challenges in deploying 5G technologies in industry, demystifying the technology and helping the UK to realise the benefits.

The consortium members are: University of Sheffield AMRC North West (lead); aql; BAE Systems; Digital Catapult; IBM; Miralis Data; MTT.  
The primary drivers for manufacturers adopting 5G and other digital technologies is the opportunity to reduce operating costs, improve productivity and increase outputs. The implementation of the 5G Factory of the Future project will give real-time visibility of such activities and enable manufacturers to:

  • Predict downtime, optimise delivery schedules and provide improved customer service in a trusted supply chain; 
  • Enable efficient integration and exploitation of mobile IoT technology for digital manufacturing;  
  • Provide full connectivity between the workers, the machinery, the supply chain and the product to optimise operations;  
  • Develop full life-cycle product management from incoming materials, to products being recycled;  

Develop new business models and sustainable services.  
The programme will deliver these benefits through a set of case studies focused on, but not limited to, aerospace manufacturing. The case studies are designed to test the most challenging and ground-breaking areas of 5G for manufacturing: increasing bandwidth, decreasing latency, ensuring security across a robust network and augmenting supply chain transparency, ensuring the future industrial sustainability.

Key technology areas:

  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)
  • visual inspection
  • artificial intelligence (AI)
  • machine learning (ML)
  • Virtual reality (VR)
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Digital twins.

The programme will establish a primary site at the University of Sheffield AMRC North West in Preston with secondary sites at BAE Systems in Warton and the AMRC in Sheffield. These locations will test the industrial capabilities of 5G and the surrounding services to develop connected, intelligent processes; and identify the challenges and opportunities these bring for developing new business models within the sector. 

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