The European manufacturing sector is of paramount significance for the European economy. In 2009 almost every 10th enterprise was classified as manufacturing and represented more than 30% of the European work force, manufactured products being the majority of European export. A fourth industrial revolution has started with the objective of making the vision of highly efficient, connected and flexible Factories-of-the-Future a tangible reality. To further improve efficiency in production, and be able to deliver more customized products, today production lines needs to be highly integrated and highly flexible to incorporate dynamic configuration changes without compromising on safety and quality. For this, future manufacturing systems will require the implementation of a reliable communication system capable of the handling several orders of magnitude the number of resources, diverse type of information and reaction times. 5G targets becoming a key enabler of the Factories of the Future or Industry 4.0 by enabling and supporting the digital transformation of multiple vertical industries, including the manufacturing industry. The integration of 5G technologies in the manufacturing ecosystem has great potential to accelerate the ongoing digital transformation of the manufacturing industry at all levels, i.e. large industries and SMEs. A digitalization revenue for the ICT industry of 234 billion USD has been estimated until 2026 by 5G-enabled manufacturing. The ongoing transformation targets disruptive changes in the shop-floor automation, product design and life cycle as well as the business relationship among different involved stakeholders. Such targets represent many new challenges to the various actors in the new manufacturing ecosystem, starting by clarifying their own roles and the interdependencies between them given that new business relationship will emerge. Another challenge will be the integration of 5G in their currently ongoing manufacturing process which comprises the identification use cases where 5G will be a necessary enabler and the validation of 5G performance against the required KPIs coming from the manufacturing end-users. Such KPIs are different from the ones traditionally used for mobile communication, therefore posing new design challenges to the telecom industry. Understanding the value that 5G can bring to the manufacturing industry is the ultimate challenge to make the digital transformation a reality by letting the different stakeholder embrace their roles and maximize the value created in the new manufacturing ecosystem.

Several platforms have been established between governments and industry to promote the innovation and development of advanced manufacturing, like the European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA) or the German Platform Industry 4.0. The 5G-SMART project consortium goes beyond previous initiatives by bringing together leading industrial partners from the manufacturing side, the telecommunications side and world-class academic institutions aiming at tackling the complex challenges considering the perspectives of all players in the new manufacturing ecosystem. With this approach, we aim at addressing the challenges in an efficient, timely and comprehensive manner.

5G-SMART project focuses on exploring how 5G can create value for the manufacturing industry by enabling novel use cases. Further 5G-SMART goes beyond that by investigating business roles and business models for providing 5G connectivity to the manufacturing industry, and which roles mobile network operators may have. 5G-SMART emphasises three groups of use cases which introduce the new challenges with respect to the seamless integration of 5G into a manufacturing system, as well as challenges related to coverage and security:

  • Use cases targeting time-critical process optimization inside a factory.
  • Use cases targeting non-time critical in-factory communication for large number of devices.
  • Use cases targeting remote operation and massive information exchange.

5G-SMART aims to create values in the manufacturing ecosystem:

  • by enabling real-time monitoring of work pieces, machines and manufacturing process, via URLLC services resulting in real-time detection of vibrations and temperature disturbances leading to reduction of manufacturing cost,
  • by enabling shop-floor digital twin via massive machine type communication services and factory cloud solution,
  • by facilitating controller software for industrial robots and AGVs to be virtualised and run on commodity hardware (e.g. in the edge cloud), a deduction of capital expenditures is forseen, but also reduction of vertical service downtime, which, in turn, increase overall service reliability and positively impacts operational expenditures,
  • by reducing footprint of robots on the factory floor area as well as enabling fast adoption (from years to months) of new machine vision algorithms enabling fast innovation process for new application development.

To investigate and validate the suitability of 5G for these use cases, three 5G trial have been setup within three factories. The three trial sites have been endorsed by 5G-ACIA as official testbeds for evaluation of industrial 5G use cases:

  • An Ericsson factory in Kista, Sweden, is located next to the 5G advanced lab of the ICT-17 5G EVE project, which will be extended with an indoor 5G NR system and an edge cloud to implement the 5G-enhanced industrial robotics use case, including the machine-vision assisted human-robot interaction. Additionally, an antenna with the outdoor network will also be installed to test spectrum coexistence aspects between the indoor and outdoor networks.
  • A factory shop-floor at the Fraunhofer IPT in Aachen, Germany, will be equipped with an indoor 5G NR system and an edge cloud targeting 5G-enabled real-time monitoring of work pieces and machining process.
  • A commercial semiconductor manufacturing plant of Bosch in Reutlingen, Germany, will be equipped with an indoor 5G NR system and an edge cloud targeting validation of use cases such cloud-based AGV control and Industrial LAN connectivity over wireless 5G. In the factory floor also, ElectroMagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and channel measurements will be conducted at 3.7 GHz and 26 GHz to validate the usability of 5G communication systems in a real factory environment.