While we don’t know where it’s going to be located yet, we do know that Ericsson is launching the first fully-automated smart factory somewhere in the United States. The factory will produce Advanced Antenna System radios to boost network capacity and coverage, including rural coverage, as well as 5G radios for urban areas, both necessary for rapid 5G deployments in North America.
The development of a new smart factory is in keeping with Ericsson’s global supply chain, which ensures the company is working close to customers through its European, Asian and American operations, securing fast and agile deliveries to meet customer requirements. Ericsson is also fast-tracking the launch of the next-generation smart manufacturing through a modular and flexible production setup in its existing own factories in Estonia, China and Brazil.
“We continue to focus on working closely with our customers and supporting them in the buildout of 5G globally and in North America. With today’s announcement, we conclude months of preparations and can move into execution also in the U.S. In addition, we are digitalizing our entire global production landscape, including establishing this factory in the U.S. With 5G connectivity we’re accelerating Industry 4.0, enabling automated factories for the future,” said Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks at Ericsson.
The company would like to see the factory, powered by Ericsson 5G solutions for the industrial environment, operational in early 2020.
Fast and secure 5G connectivity will enable agile operations and flexible production. From automated warehouses, connected logistics and automated assembly, to packing and product handling and the use of autonomous carts, the factory will be first of what could be a future of many. The latest technology products created in the 5G factory will enable a faster rollout of commercial 5G across the region. Over time, activities to support new product introduction will also be added to the new factory operations as local competence and knowledge of 5G is built.
Will there still be employees in the factory of the future? Yes. Ericsson plans to initially employ approximately 100 people at the facility, which will have highly automated operations, as well as a modular and flexible production setup to enable quick ramp up and rollout.
Ericsson began operations via a production partner for the first radios for the U.S. market produced at the end of 2018. The company also established a new R&D site – a software development center – in Austin, Texas. It is located close to the Austin ASIC Design Center, which opened in late 2017 and focuses on core microelectronics of 5G radio base stations.