Ford: unlocking 5G potential for electric vehicle production
In a recent announcement made by Ford , the automotive organisation and its consortium of partners have received government backing to introduce 5G connectivity within its manufacturing to speed up the production of electrical vehicles.
Delivered by Vodafone Business, the 5G mobile private network will be install this year in the companies Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering (E:PriME) facility on Ford’s Dunton Campus
“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,” commented Chris White, Ford’s 5GEM project lead.
The Vodafone Business 5G solution is said to be able to overcome many of the issues relating to wireless connectivity in the industrial industry, by reducing delays, providing a wider bandwidth, improving security and reliability and increasing deployment times.
“5G mobile private networks act as a springboard for organisations, allowing them to rethink the way they do business. In this case, MPN 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,” Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business.
Once complete, Ford will have the fastest possible connectivity, as well as the consortium’s second network welding research specialists TWI, based in Cambridge. The connected equipment at both sites will provide Ford with real time control and analysis, as well as expert support to ensure that new manufacturing processes are ready for the shop floor.
With these capabilities provided by Vodafone, Ford will focus on the connectivity of the welding machines when manufacturing electric vehicles. Currently for the batteries and electric motors in an electric vehicle, requires 1,000 welds, for a single product, Ford explains that this could generate more than half a million pieces of data every minute.
“Fast, reliable, high capacity data capture and analysis will be a significant requirement of these processes. Connecting the data with experts, such as TWI and manufacturers, is critical if processes are to develop at the same rate as these innovative products demand,” said Ford in a company statement.
“We’re determined to harness this revolutionary technology to boost the productivity and growth of UK industries. 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,” Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
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Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.