AT&T and Samsung Create Manufacturing-focused 5G Innovation Zone

by Ruth Seeley

As the network that combines Wi-Fi, 4G, and wireless access technologies with average speeds of 800 Gbps, 5G applications range from auto manufacturing to virtual reality. Applications designed to improve efficiency, safety, security and operational performance within the manufacturing industry are under development now at global innovation centers including the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey.

AT&T and Samsung have just launched a 5G Innovation Zone at Samsung Austin Semiconductor to demonstrate 5G’s Impact on the Smart Factory. Use cases include robotics, IIoT, and mixed reality. The new research space will help the companies explore ideas and technology over 5G networks to improve manufacturing environments and create smarter factories.

The Innovation Zone will leverage a combination of multiple connectivity technologies, including 5G, LTE, and Wi-Fi as well as other technologies that will evolve as additional 5G devices become available.  

The key benefits of 5G include capacity, throughput and latency improvements at levels previously only available via wired technology. Like most manufacturing facilities, Samsung Austin Semiconductor collects data from thousands of machines. Adding 5G to the mix can enable manufacturers to enhance the scale and volume of data collection, improve process flexibility by eliminating wires and improve the ability to process data in near real time. Increased bandwidth and reduced latency would be a gamechanger in improving efficiency and performance on the production floor and predicting issues before they happen.  Safety also gets a boost as 5G’s lower latency could enable critical data to get to emergency respondents without lag or delay.

A collaborative effort between AT&T and Samsung engineers and technicians, the Innovation Zone looks at challenges 5G technology can meet for manufacturing companies. Interactive test use cases focus on real-world issues and provide visitors with firsthand experience of how 5G connectivity impacts technologies like IIoT, robotics and mixed reality in manufacturing.

Applications being tested at the Innovation Center include:

Health and Environmental Sensors

Demonstrating how 5G and sensors could help first responders better locate employees and speed up response time emergencies. Keeping employees safe at work is a top priority for manufacturing companies. 5G’s capacity and reliability can be used to communicate an injured person’s vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature directly to first responders during the critical first hour, which can result in faster, more efficient care.

Automated Material Handling, IIoT and Robotics

Demonstrating how 5G, 4K live video and IoT sensor data better supports the factory automation process. Advanced manufacturing facilities use automated processes and robotic equipment throughout their production process. 5G can enable large-scale, near real-time monitoring and proactive maintenance of factory automation equipment, helping to improve production. An Automated Material Handling System equipped with IoT sensors and 4K wireless cameras will demonstrate remote monitoring of factory automation equipment. With 5G, this type of automation could be equipped with a full suite of devices to collect important data on acceleration, position, temperature, humidity, and gas flow rates.

Mixed Reality for Training

Demonstrating how 5G and mixed reality can be used to train employees. 5G has the potential to educate. Mixed reality technology using tools such as wireless Augmented Reality (AR) glasses along with low latency content delivery from the edge can provide an untethered method to virtually train hundreds of employees, providing immersive and immediate access to equipment diagnostics, as well as directions for repairs.

Source: AT&T

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