AE Aerospace trials 5G to transform productivity
In an announcement made by AE Aerospace, the UK SME has become the first in the country to deploy a 5G private network in collaboration with WM5G, W5G and BT to transform manufacturing productivity.
Founded in 1996, AE Aerospace operates a high precision engineering facility as well as produces parts for the likes of Rolls Royce, Raytheon UK and Moog.
“We are delighted to have been chosen by WM5G, W5G & BT to develop the 5G Technology which will fast forward our Glass Factory, Servitized programme; by improving our productivity & flexibility, reducing costs and lead time for our customers. Post Covid and BREXIT, we believe that this support will be a driving force, enabling the UK Manufacturing sector to compete on the world stage,” commented Peter Bruch, Managing Director at AE Aerospace.
AE Aerospace believes that its three 5G enabled trials delivered via the project will improve productivity, as well as provide existing clients with a better quality of service and new business models, revenue and opportunities.
AE Aerospace hopes that the 5G trials powered by BT’s EE mobile network will help to maximise machine time, provide more accurate assurance that parts have been machined to specification with speed and efficiency, and eliminate the need to re-work or replace damaged components.
The manufacturer aspires to set a new precedent for the SME aerospace sector.
“This latest investment reinforces BT’s commitment in working with WM5G and W5G to support regional businesses in adopting innovative technologies to significantly enhance workplace productivity. As we’ve seen through our work with W5G and Worcester Bosch, 5G is the perfect enabler for Industry 4.0, and presents unprecedented control, transparency and understanding of operations,” commented Sarah Walker, BT director for corporate and public sector in the Midlands.
“The 5G Private Network will not only drive operational efficiencies and accelerate digital transformation for AE Aerospace, but it will also stimulate economic rejuvenation of the manufacturing sector, a critical industry for the West Midlands and the wider UK,” she added.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.