Confirm: smart manufacturing future wireless innovation
In an announcement made by Confirm - a leading Science Foundation Ireland research centre in smart manufacturing - the company confirms the successful deployment of its Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed.
“Confirm Centre is delighted to launch the Smart Manufacturing Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed. Wireless communication between products, machines, production systems and supply chains form a major part of our digital thread strategy, designed to achieve mass customisation and enable [reconfigurability] in manufacturing plants and associated digital supply chains,” said Professor Conor Mc Carthy, Director of Confirm.
The Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed
Located at the Confirm Centre for Smart Manufacturing which is headquartered at the University of Limerick Digital District - one of the most advanced ‘purpose built’ manufacturing research facilities.
The new innovation Test-Bed has been designed and deployed with Dr Eoin O’Connell, a Funded Investigator in Confirm at the helm, exploring ideas and technologies to improve manufacturing environments. By utilising the latest wireless technologies - 5G, 6G and Wifi6 - the mission is to create smarter factories.
Planning and execution was a collaborative effort from Confirm and Netmore. THe Test-Bed’s design is inspired by the challenges faced by manufacturers and how they can benefit from technologies such as 5G.
“We are very pleased that Confirm chooses Netmore as a supplier of 5G infrastructure for its operations in Smart Manufacturing. The fact that Netmore’s 5G technology is selected for the Innovation Test-Bed at the University of Limerick is proof that our services and our technology are suitable in the best possible way for environments that place high demands on capacity, reliability and security. We look forward to a long and successful collaboration with Confirm Smart Manufacturing,” added Ove Anebygd, CEO of Netmore.
In December 2020, tests included the control of an Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle (AIV) via a 5G network at the Confirm Centre, which the company believes to be the first reported case of 5G wireless robotic control in Ireland.
Initial results are ‘very promising’ from an accuracy point of view, indicating that the integration of 5G as a wireless signaling system within a manufacturing environment is now a more viable option.
Plans for the smart manufacturing Test-Bed
Dedicated to transforming the industry into a smart manufacturing ecosystem by integrating intelligence within operations and products, “the Innovation Test-Bed promises fast connectivity, more bandwidth and low latency with support for tens of thousands of devices in a small location (5G supports up to 1 million connections per km2), all of which are attractive prospects to manufacturing facilities,” says Confirm.
Other ways in which the the Test-Bed will help manufacturers include:
- The chance to build smarter factories
- The ability to take advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the larger deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
- Furthering the advancement of manufacturing operations, enabling businesses to be faster and be more responsive
- Enabling manufacturers to enhance the scale and volume of data collection, improving process flexibility by eliminating wires and improving the ability to process data in near real-time
“It is now clear that the manufacturing sector will ultimately be driven by the capacity and scalability of high-speed networks. The Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed at Confirm will enable cutting edge research to deliver the breakthroughs needed for the factory of the future,” said Dr Eoin O’Connell, Funded Investigator, Confirm.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.