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Robotics and Factories

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Daniel Dearing on 5 Apr 2018
  • Last modified 31 May 2018
Robots are what sci fi dreams are made of, but aside from the Terminators and Cyclones of the future, robots hold exciting possibilities for more than just futurist fanatics.

Factories and manufacturers will make great use of robots, using them to cut resource and time costs, and 5G is set to herald the era of a new generation of robots. Instead of being controlled by wired communication link, they can be used wirelessly, being managed remotely, locally connected to machines and people, and be as close to real time as you can get.

Of course the use of robots in manufacturing and factories is already pervasive, but 5G innovation means that they’ll be capable of so much more than what 4g was able to give them; hugely reduced latency for instant response times. It is still early days for this new generation of robots but the potential is massive. 5G communications, combined with the vast cloud processing and data storage, and compute power available, means that robots will be able to do things like share a huge amount of information with each other.

Getting Personal

According to a report by Ericsson, in recent decades, there has been an increasing need for customization to allow manufacturers to differentiate from competitors and broaden their product offerings.

“In a way, the product variety stimulates the consumer market, provided that manufacturing costs are kept low enough to have sustainable margins. The final step of the trend is personalized production.

“Based on the Industry 4.0 paradigm and leveraging on new technologies across the complete value chain from suppliers to customers, it is possible to significantly increase the flexibility of the production line and shorten production lead times. This leads to more affordable and scalable customization.”

The report asserts that the trend for ‘personal’ product customization is growing, along with a preference for online purchasing. Therefore, Ericsson stresses that current processes need to be adapted to be more flexible and customizable, while still protecting initial investments in the production line.

“High speed wireless infrastructure such as 5G networks can facilitate the modification (required by customized products) of OEM machines with minimal impact.”

Some Points to Consider

There’ll be substantial increases in product quality, how much is produced, how easily new products can be made and how safe the factory environment is. What’s needed to get there is massive network innovation:

  • Edge computing within the network will be needed to sustain such low latency.
  • Connectors and cable will need to be more durable as there’ll be so many more of them moving constantly, in an intensive factory environment.
  • Factories must also closely control low-frequency interference using filters and inductors, as there will be a noted increase of systems operating in close proximity.

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