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How the 5G factory will help manufacturers of all sizes to keep up

From the present day, 1908 feels like a very long time ago. After all, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were still solving mysteries on the streets of London and the world was decades away from the discovery of penicillin.

But it was 1908 when the first mass produced car, the Model T, rolled off the Ford production line. The car has seen countless incremental design improvements since then, but the fundamentals of an internal combustion engine – powered by fossil fuel – have stayed the same for over a century.

Now, however, transport is entering a rapid change in development, from the electric car to connected and autonomous vehicles.

These are exciting times for drivers and passengers, but for the automotive industry it illustrates the challenges facing manufacturers in keeping up with demand.

It’s here that Industry 4.0, and in particular new forms of connectivity, can help manufacturers of every size – as shown by Europe’s first 5G ready factory.

Better connected

Whether they produce cars or clothing, manufacturers in every sector are facing challenges. Consumers’ demands are higher than ever, and products need to be manufactured at record speeds to take advantage of market trends before they become obsolete.

This presents a challenge for manufacturers of every size. But the technology of Industry 4.0 provides an opportunity for manufacturers to meet these demands head on, particularly through the use of connectivity.

Recent research from the UK showed that three quarters of small and medium sized companies believe that their agility helps them to compete with larger rivals, and that 5G offers the opportunity to increase that agility – and so gain a competitive advantage.

A recent example of this is the e.GO factory floor in Germany.

The 5G factory in action

e.GO developed an Industry 4.0 factory to deliver more affordable electric vehicles, as well as gain a competitive advantage over its rivals.

At Vodafone, we worked with e.GO to connect machines in an 8,500m2 site using a private ‘5G ready’ network, rather than Wi-Fi, in a world first.

See how this decision improved operations for e.GO:

This is the Group version but we are getting this with a NZ voice over that will replace this once ready.

Crucially, this connected factory means that e.GO’s development team can adjust factory settings at the touch of a button, allowing them to roll out new designs at speed.

The new e.GO electric car factory took just two years to develop and saved the company millions of Euros. Looking ahead, the team will be able to keep up with demand for new designs with a robust and adaptable factory floor.

Keeping up

The manufacturing sector is facing a new pace of change. Consumers have come to expect more variety than ever before– and it’s likely that soon very few products will look the same as they did a century ago.

But Industry 4.0 also offers the opportunity for manufacturers to create smart production lines, increasing speed, enhancing operations and reducing costs.

Connectivity, and 5G in particular, will be a key component. Benefits such as network slicing and mobile private networks will enable manufacturers to create adaptable smart factories that will be fit for the future.

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