5G Factory IoT Trials Evaluate 5G

Omron and partners are using 5G communications technology with the IIoT in trials across factories.


lobal factory automation specialist, Omron has partnered with NTT Docomo, telecoms giant Nokia and Networks Japan Corporation to conduct joint trials using the

fifth-generation mobile communications system (5G) in factories and other manufacturing sites. Through these trials, the companies will evaluate the usefulness and possibilities of 5G’s high-speed, large-capacity, low-latency and simultaneous multiple connections with the aim of solving the challenges facing the manufacturing industry and developing communications technology required in manufacturing sites of the future. In manufacturing industry, the demand for wireless communications is on the increase as efforts are being aimed at improving productivity through the use of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) data. This background enabling technology provides the means of making progress in dealing with various issues, such as a shortage of skilled workers and high-mix low-volume production. However, various aspects must be verified to ensure stable, reliable, high wireless quality when using existing wireless communications in factories, including changes in the environment due to moving people and objects, and interference such as noise emitted from various devices. The features that provide the main benefits of 5G are high speed, large volume, low latency and connectivity between large numbers of devices. The three companies will measure 5G waves

and perform transmission tests inside the factory as well as conduct trials related to productivity improvements afforded by cooperative work between people and machines by making use of 5G.

A COOPERATIVE APPROACH During the trials, Omron will make use of its expertise in factory automation products such as controllers and instrumentation by providing the necessary factory automation components and control technology. It will also provide expertise in manufacturing as well as the factory site for conducting the trials. NTT Docomo will provide technical expertise for the trials and provide the 5G testbeds whilst Nokia will provide a platform, including 5G base stations, along with the technology and expertise of Nokia Bell Laboratories.

20 /// Electronics Testing 2019

❱ ❱ Capturing skilled worker movements and analysing with AI is one of the aims of a project for improving manufacturing productivity through 5G

LAYOUT-FREE PRODUCTION LINES As people’s needs around the world are becoming more diverse and product life cycles are shortening, manufacturing sites must be able to change or update their production lines at short notice. This requires the ability to change the production line layout according to constantly changing demand as well as to introduce new products and processes more quickly. One of the aims of the project is to demonstrate the capability of using 5G as an enabler for layout-free production facilities. This will be achieved by arranging production lines in an open layout where individual processes are physically detached, but connected through a wireless network that uses the large capacity and low latency features of 5G, in combination with Omron’s AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots).

REAL-TIME COACHING USING AI/IIOT To overcome the problems that manufacturing sites face due to a serious shortage of skilled workers, the project aims to address the need to improve productivity and develop skills more rapidly through fast training and re-training programs. In this respect, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to analyse data rapidly collected through the high-speed 5G network. Such data would include production equipment data and video data capturing the line of movement and physical movements of operators. By providing real-time feedback on how skilled operators work compared to inexperienced operators, the project aims to achieve a new level of cooperative work between humans and machines that improves productivity, supports early acquisition of skills and raises motivation .

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