5G IN ACTION: TRACKING & MONITORING TOOLS & MACHINE PARTS

Where has 5G been deployed to enable tracking and monitoring of tools and machine parts?

AE Aerospace—utilising a private 5G network—is using real-time ultra-high-definition image comparisons and calibration tracking to unlock greater levels of efficiency.  Production units have many surfaces, holes and screw threads that must be measured manually with gauges. By tagging all the gauges, their location can be tracked and identified in real-time over 5G. The ability to understand what tools are needed when and why and whether they require recalibration, will identify any production pinch points, accelerate the location process and increase the speed and accuracy of measurement.   Operational and productivity gains here are significant.

Ericsson’s 5G smart factory in Nanjing, China harnesses 5G to generate data, connecting everything from screwdrivers to entire warehousing systems. This has enabled the factory to dramatically improve efficiency by tracking the use of tools and dispatching services and maintenance accordingly. The factory anticipates significant potential benefits such as automated usage tracking as well as optimising its maintenance. Early on in this case study, the manufacturer showed that breakeven can be reached in less than two years and that the first year can provide a 50% return on investment. 

GSMA outlines a use-case being explored by a major white-goods manufacturer for remote monitoring of tools that are given to suppliers, in order to ensure the integrity of the supply chain. Cases have occurred whereby sub-contractors have illicitly further outsourced production to other factories and re-located equipment supplied by the respondent, to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities in countries with lower labour costs. This carries a substantial risk of reputational damage, particularly if the resultant goods are produced to a lower standard of quality or fail to adhere to worker safety and rights required of the original sub-contract. Relying on internal connectivity on-site at contractor premises to determine location may not necessarily prevent such instances, particularly if location data can be spoofed with VPN services. Instead, restricting remote connectivity to public 5G networks offers a solution. 

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