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Audi Brings in Ericsson for 5G Factory Trials

Industry is starting to prepare for the next generation of mobile data connectivity

By CBR Staff Writer

Audi has teamed up with Ericsson to trial a 5G network for automated car component manufacturing at a simulated production plant in Gaimersheim Germany.

The high speed communications network will power wireless robots that glue components at the company’s already heavily automated facilities.

This will initially just be in simulated processes that reflect those used at its largest production site, Ingoldstadt.

The agreement comes as part of an memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two to build the “smart factory of tomorrow.”

Frank Loydl, Chief Information Officer at AUDI AG said: “The fully networked factory will have a significant impact on the production of the future. A powerful network architecture that can respond in real time is of decisive importance for us. As part of the project with our partner Ericsson, we are testing the opportunities offered by 5G technology for industrial applications in the smart factory.”

Audi’s factories are already heavily automated, as the video below shows.

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Audi 5G: First Phase – Glue Robots

They will test “latency-critical” wirelessly connected robots that are equipped with a gluing application. The network is designed so it can also take advantage of alternative internet connections like a company LAN connection or Wifi.

See also: “Fiendishly Complicated” 5G Networks: Exciting, Expensive, Ever Coming?

The network can also support a wired connection; likely included as a backup in the event of the failure of the 5G and Wifi. In addition to the Ingolstadt plant, Audi and Ericsson are exploring whether 5G can be used in other Audi Group factories.

Erik Ekudden, Group CTO at Ericsson commented in the announcement that: “Ericsson is already running 5G industry programs all over the world to help manufacturers boost productivity and create new business opportunities.”

“This project is a great opportunity to see what is possible when we bring 5G into an automobile production environment to truly enable smart wireless manufacturing.”

Audi A1 body shop, robot line

Ericsson describes the technology as having “network characteristics that are essential for Industry 4.0 with increasingly flexible and complex production processes.”

“It allows for faster data throughput rates and more network capacities, as well as promising highly secure availability. Moreover, ultra-low latency ensures fast response times between equipment in the factory system.”

Fort the first half of the year Alexander Seitz, Audi’s finance chief, reported that in 2018 Audi Group increased their total revenue to £27.80 billion and had operating profits of £2.5 billion.

Mr Seitz commented in the earnings releases that: “The response to our new models and technologies shows that they will significantly move Audi forward again. To those ends, we are mastering the current phase of upheaval and transition.”

Meanwhile Ericsson reported a decrease in revenue, which fell year-on-year from £8.4 billion pounds £8 billion for H1. The company attributed the fall to R&D investments in 5G networks and their implementation.

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