WORLD FIRST: All-robot facility opens in China that could change the industry forever
Construction work has begun on the world’s first all-robot factory, located in China. Initially, the factory will be run by 1,000 robots, although that number is expected to increase. The manufacturing facility is run by Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co., and will cut its 1,800 workforce by 90 percent, to about 200 employees.
The company did not give a figure for the investment in the factory, but said its production capacity could reach a value of 2 billion yuan (US$322 million) annually.
Robots are set to take over in many factories in the Pearl River Delta, the area of southern China known as the ‘world’s workshop’ because of the huge export manufacturing industry there, as labour shortages bite and local authorities face the need to spur innovation to counter the economic slowdown.
Since September, a total of 505 factories in the region have invested 4.2 billion yuan in robots, aiming to replace more than 30,000 workers, according to reports. By 2016, it is estimated that up to 1,500 of the city’s industrial enterprises will have begun replacing humans with robots.
The provincial authorities of Guangdong said early this year they would spend 943 billion yuan on replacing human labour with robots within the next three years. Cities in the province are handing out annual subsidies of between 200 and 500 million yuan to makers of robots and to manufacturers who install robots on assembly lines.
The provincial capital, Guangzhou, has set a goal of fostering a robot-manufacturing industry with an output value of more than 100 billion yuan by 2020, as well as automating more than 80 percent of the city’s manufacturing production.
The government of the city of Foshan has said the value of its automation and robotics market would reach 300 billion yuan in five years.
Labour shortages have long troubled the Pearl River Delta region, though the situation has improved slightly in the past few years.
According to Guangdong’s labour department, in March 2015 after the Lunar New Year holiday, the province needed between 600,000 and 800,000 workers. That was about the same as in 2014 but less than the 1 million shortages in 2012. In the same period in 2010, the shortage had been 2 million.
The period after the Lunar New Year is traditionally the time of greatest labour shortages since most workers in the province are migrants and many do not return to their jobs after going back home for the holiday.
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.