Finish 5G maker Nokia and Japanese wireless carrier NTT DOCOMO are conducting 5G joint field trials at the factories of OMRON, a Kyoto, Japan-based global specialist in manufacturing automation.
The trial follows the increasing demand for wireless communications at manufacturing sites driven by the need for stable connectivity between IoT devices. As background noise from machines and the movement of people have the potential to interfere with wireless communications, the trial will aim to verify the reliability and stability of 5G technology deployed by conducting radio wave measurements and transmission experiments.
“Combining five different digital technologies — autonomous robots, mobile computing, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and machine learning — could deliver additional average market capitalization of just over billion for a company,” according to a report by Accenture.
During the trial, Nokia, DOCOMO and OMRON will aim to establish the feasibility of the concept of a layout-free production line with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). As product cycles become shorter due to fast-changing consumer demands, manufacturing sites are under increasing pressure to rearrange production lines at short notice. By taking advantage of 5G’s high speed, large capacity, low latency and ability to connect multiple devices, the trial will see AMRs automatically conveying components to the exact spot where they are required based on communication with production line equipment.
“Exploiting technology breakthroughs in fields such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics is significant on its own. But what really turbo-charges the impact is seeing them work in concert to super-accelerate the pace of change of industry 4.0, bringing enormous benefits,” according to The Future Factory.
The trial will also leverage 5G connectivity for real-time coaching using AI/IoT. Machine operators will be monitored using cameras, with an AI-based system providing feedback on their performance based on an analysis of their movements. This will help improve the training of technicians by detecting and analyzing the differences of motion between more skilled and less skilled personnel.
“Manufacturers are set to benefit from the stable, lower-latency and higher throughput wireless connections that come with 5G, which allow them to truly embrace the Internet of Things,” John Harrington, President and CEO, Nokia Japan. “Production lines will be more flexible and adaptable, and productivity on the factory floor can be more easily improved. We are dedicated to helping manufacturers enable this Industry 4.0 vision.”