Ford and Vodafone unlock the potential of 5G EV production
Ford announced that it has received government backing, along with its partners, to introduce 5G networks to its car manufacturing.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has said that £65mn will be pledged to nine consortia in order to explore the transformative benefits of the new network technology.
“We’re determined to harness this revolutionary technology to boost the productivity and growth of UK industries,” he stated.
“We want Britain to be a world leader in 5G and since 2017 the government has invested millions in ground-breaking testbeds and trials across the country to achieve this.”
Accordingly, a 5G network delivered by Vodafone is scheduled to be installed at Ford’s E:PriME (Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering) plant in Dunton, Essex.
In addition to unlocking exponentially faster network speeds, Vodafone promises to resolve many of the enduring issues surrounding the employment of 5G in industrial settings, such as delays, narrow bandwidth, reliability and deployment time.
The advantages of a properly integrated site would be a truly next-gen manufacturing cycle: real-time control, data analysis and remote expert support.
Moving towards tomorrow’s plant
Of particular interest to Ford is 5G’s applicability to its welding machines in the creation of critical EV components - the motor and the batteries. Estimating that a single set of these components would take approximately 1,000 welds, the company is conscious of the millions of pieces of data that would be required.
Chris White, Ford’s 5GEM project lead, stated that the upfront investment for the transformation would be expensive, yet the ROI could prove more than worth it.
“Connecting today’s shop floor requires significant time and investment. Present technology can be the limiting factor in reconfiguring and deploying next-gen manufacturing systems.
“5G presents the opportunity to transform the speed of launch and flexibility of present manufacturing facilities, moving us towards tomorrow’s plants connected to remote expert support and artificial intelligence.”
Additionally, Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business, added that 5G presented organisations with the opportunity to drastically reimagine business as we know it:
“5G mobile private networks act as a springboard for organisations, allowing them to rethink the way they do business.
“In this case, MPN (mobile private network) technology makes the factory of the future possible. It allows machines and computing power to coordinate in real-time, improving precision, efficiency and safety. We’re excited to help Ford plan for the future of its business.”
Image courtesy of Ford
Timeline: Tesla's Construction of Gigafactories
Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy
Founded in 2003, Tesla was established by a group of engineers with a drive to "prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars." Almost 20 years on, Tesla today is not only manufacturing all electric vehicles, but scaleable clean energy generation and storage too.
"Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better," says Tesla. "Electric cars, batteries, and renewable energy generation and storage already exist independently, but when combined, they become even more powerful – that’s the future we want. "
In order to deliver on its promise of "accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles and energy products," Tesla's Gigafactory journey began in 2014 to meet its produciton goals of 500,000 cars per year (a figure which would require the entire worlds supply of lithium-ion batteries at the time).
By ramping up its production and bringing it in-house, the cost of Tesla 's battery cells declined "through economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimisation of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof." With this reduction in battery cost, "Tesla can make products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy."
2014: Giga Nevada and Giga New York begin construction
Born out of necessity to meet its own supply demand for sustainable energy, Tesla began the construction of its first Gigafactory in June 2014, in Reno, Nevada, followed by its Buffalo, New York facility the same year. "By bringing cell production in-house, Tesla manufactures batteries at the volumes required to meet production goals, while creating thousands of jobs," said Tesla.
2016: Reno, Nevada grand opening
Tesla’s construction of Giga Nevada came to an end in 2016, the first of its Gigafactories to complete its construction project. The factory’s grand opening took place in July 2016, and by mid-2018 reached an annual battery production rate of 20 GWh, which made it the highest-volume battery plant in the world that year.
2017: Giga New York begins production
Two years after Tesla’s second Gigafactory began construction, Giga New York was complete, and started its production operations in 2017.
2019: Giga Shanghai construction to production in record time
In 2019, Tesla selected Shanghai as its third Gigafactory location. The company constructed the factory in record time, taking just 168 working days from gaining permits to finishing the plant's construction.
2019: Giga Berlin begins construction
Announced in November 2019, Tesla began the construction of its first European Gigafactory in Berlin. The Gigafactory is still under construction.
2020: Giga Texas begins construction
The following year in August 2020, Tesla began the construction of its Giga Texas factory. The company’s third Gigafactory in the US is still under construction.
2021: Giga Texas and Giga Berlin expected completion of construction
Looking to the future, Tesla expects to complete the construction of its Giga Texas and Giga Berlin factories in May 2021 and July 2021 respectively.