Worcestershire 5G Consortium leads the way for manufacturing innovation

In April, the Worcestershire 5G Consortium participated in techUK’s 5G Week.

Each day of techUK’s 5G week was focused on a different aspect of 5G development and deployment. To coincide with day three, which was dedicated to exploring how the 5G testbed and trials programme is stimulating innovation, Brendan Lynch, CTO and Board Member of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium wrote a blog exploring how the Consortium is leading the way in innovating British manufacturing.

The guest blog can be viewed below:

Guest Blog with techUK by Brendan Lynch, CTO and Board Member of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium.

The Worcestershire 5G Testbed is testing 5G for industrial application. It is part of the UK drive to achieve Industry 4.0 and create a more connected, creative and dynamic economy for businesses and investors, on a local and national scale.

The Consortium recently announced the switch on of Britain’s first-ever live 5G factory trials, marking the first stage in Britain’s journey to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 through the creation of smart factories. The trials allow manufacturers to test the potential of 5G investments – from factory floor production, reconfiguration and real-time analysis, to steering a machine’s movements from a remote location.

Results from the trials will be fed into the wider 5G ecosystem to form a blueprint for how the model can work nationally. Early results indicate that 5G could improve manufacturing output by as much as 1 to 2%, which would hold enormous benefit for the UK economy and make a real, tangible difference to national productivity and output levels.

As 5G becomes increasingly integrated with traditional manufacturing systems, the manufacturing process will become intelligent and dynamic, able to self-optimise performance and operate automatically. The deployment of 5G will allow smart factories to become a functioning reality, representing a leap forward from traditional automation to a flexible, fully connected and agile system.

The level of automation permitted by smart factories promises a host of benefits, including real-time linkages to customer demand forecasts, reliable quality, predictable production capacity and lower cost of production. The heightened visibility, pace of production and efficiency allowed by smart factories are key drivers that will contribute to driving higher productivity levels in manufacturing.

Work underway at Worcestershire 5G Testbed is providing invaluable insight that will prove key to stimulating innovation in the manufacturing sector, not just in Worcester, but across the UK.

Mazak is working with the Worcestershire 5G Consortium to test 5G technology and provide its service team a unique set of tools that will revolutionise machine tool servicing and customer service within the manufacturing sectorIt is testing an augmented reality (AR) headset that has a built in HD camera and microphone and is powered by 5G. This allows for a two-way communication stream between Mazak’s service department in Worcester and the on-site field engineer, meaning that engineers can receive real-time support, wherever they may be. It will save customers time and money and provide a level of service that could only be previously achieved by having a second engineer on site.

As well as delivering a 1 to 2% increase in productivity, the use of AR in this instance can also be used a tool to train service engineers of the future. To offer real time support via AR requires low latency and seamless connectivity. 5G allows Mazak to exploit exactly that and lays the groundwork for the future of customer service and machine tool servicing in manufacturing.

Guest Blog with techUK by Brendan Lynch, CTO and Board Member of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium as part of techUK’s #The5GFuture campaign week.