Skip to content
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Factory of the future shows mobile model for small manufacturers

Vodafone enables electric car manufacturer, e.GO, to become one of the first 5G factories

Professor Günther Schuh, who media sometimes characterise as Germany’s answer to Elon Musk, wants to create more affordable electric vehicles. My team has been working with him, designing a factory that helps to reduce the cost of getting more environmentally responsible vehicles to market.

e.GO

Günther’s company, e.GO was founded out of RWTH Aachen University in 2015 where he was vice-rector for Industry and Business Relations. By then he had already developed an electric delivery van, StreetScooter, a company that was bought by Deutsche Post in 2014. 

https://www.vodafone.co.nz/cms/images/ws2/business/street-scooter.jpg

Thanks to an array of StreetScooter vehicles and some 12,000 e-bikes and e-trikes, Deutsche Post DHL Group today operates the largest electric fleet in Germany. Picture rights: Deutsche Post

300 e.GO employees currently work on the university’s campus while they develop a new assembly plant – due to open in 2020 - for the new e.GO Life 60 series.

Industry 4.0

https://www.vodafone.co.nz/cms/images/ws2/business/ego/vf-ger-ceo.jpg

(l-r) Vodafone Germany CEO, Hannes Ametsreiter and Professor Günther Schuh try out the new e.GO Life 60 series. Picture rights: e.GO

E.GO challenged Vodafone and Ericsson to help them to develop an ‘industry 4.0’ factory that could help them gain a competitive advantage through the use of mobile technology.

The result is a model that many other European companies might look to in future. 

The 16,000m2 e.GO factory in Aachen is one of the first in the world to connect machines using a private ‘5G ready’ network rather than Wi-Fi.

We installed 36 mobile antenna within the factory walls to connect all the machinery to the IT system and to send data back to the company’s network operations center, the factory’s brain. 

Data is an important fuel for modern automotive production, so it is important that never leaves the production hall and the private mobile network ensures secure, encrypted communications.

Mobile network slicing is being used for the first time in Germany to dedicate a slice of spectrum for the factory to ensure that critical manufacturing processes are never interrupted by inadvertent data packet loss.

The network edge

In another first for the company the network will use multi-access edge computing (MEC) to boost the processing power of the Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) which carry the chassis from station to station, replacing the classic production line. The factory will contain the world’s first AGVs to use 4G+ rather than Wi-Fi.

These machines process environmental data, like unexpected objects in their path, near instantaneously (less than 10 milliseconds), ensuring both they and all other machines in the plant adapt their routines accordingly.

In the future the AGV will be joined by smart forklifts and smart factory trains which will transport material between warehouses and production halls.

Maximum efficiency

An electronic database contains a digital twin of the factory: not only every component (tagged using radio frequency identification or RFID tags the moment they arrive) but also the exact specifications of how to assemble and disassemble components.   

Parts arrive at exactly when they are needed and the connected tools used by the human and robot workers automatically adjust to the exact level of torque needed for a task. 

This ensures future factories can be set up quickly and cost-effectively.  

https://www.vodafone.co.nz/cms/images/ws2/business/ego/production-line.jpg

Cars on the production line at the e.GO factory. Picture rights: e.Go

Adapting production

The use of mobile technology provides e.GO’s development team with incredible power to analyse network data and automatically adjust factory processes with the press of a button.

When the team decided to move from a steel to an aluminum frame it took just three months to install new machinery and adjust processes, around a sixth of the time it would take a competitor to do the same.

The new e.GO electric car has taken just two years to develop, less than half the average time and has cost
€70 million, four times less than the industry average development costs.

While the current factory uses a 4G+ network, the amount of automation and the need for systems to process more and more data in real time will require 5G standalone in future, an upgrade e.GO is planning later this year.

The future of small scale production?

The e.GO Life assembly plant 1, is one of the first examples in the world of a true Industry 4.0 factory, with everything fully networked to an IT system.

This has been an amazing project to work on and indicates how 5G and mobile technology can spur a wave of success for businesses. 

Explore the future of 5G

 

Get the latest insights straight to your inbox

Keep up with the latest insights, tech trends, offers and events
main_icn_24_7_support 360-view 4g main_icn_Accessories main_icn_Add_or_Plus main_icn_Apps arrow-left arrow-right market_icn_Battery bill-or-report-mid block blog-hi-dark broadband-device-hi-dark broadband-mid broadband-device business calendar market_icn_Minutes main_icn_Camera main_icn_Chat cherries-points main_icn_Chevron_down main_icn_Chevron_left main_icn_Chevron_right main_icn_Chevron_up clock-hi-dark main_icn_Clock_or_Timed main_icn_Close community-or-foundation-mid main_icn_Community_or_Foundation connectivity converged-proposition customer-care dashboard-hi dashboard-mid main_icn_Dashboard data-mid market_icn_Data_Sharing market_icn_Deals main_icn_Delete delivery main_icn_Dislike document-mid main_icn_Download main_icn_Edit entertainment-hi-dark error-circle error-simple main_icn_Social_Facebook main_icn_Filter main_icn_Filter social-google-plus help-hi_1 help home-02-hi info-circle infographic-hi-dark country-or-international-hi-dark landline-or-call-mid main_icn_Landline_or_Call main_icn_Like market_icn_LinkedIn location-hi main_icn_Location mail-new-hi-dark mail-read-hi-dark mail-new market_icn_Screen_size main_icn_Menu market_icn_SMS mobile-broadband mobile-hi-dark mobile-mid main_icn_Mobile my-vodafone-mid main_icn_My_Vodafone network-signal-hi-dark network-signal-hi network-signal-mid main_icn_Network_signal offer-badge-percent market_icn_Offer_badge main_icn_Pause payg-hi-dark payg-hi payg-mid main_icn_PAYG social-paypal main_icn_Photos pie-chart play-hi-dark main_icn_Play_circle main_icn_Play_arrow main_icn_Add_or_Plus print main_icn_Privacy 0_rating 5_rating main_icn_Ratings record-hi-dark refresh main_icn_Bill_or_Report main_icn_Reports return-product roaming-hi-dark roaming-mid main_icn_Roaming search-hi-dark main_icn_Search security-hi-dark security-hi security-mid main_icn_Security settings-hi-dark settings-hi share shopping-trolley shopping sim-mid main_icn_SIM market_icn_SIM_Swap social-facebook social-google-plus social-linkedin social-twitter social-youtube main_icn_Student tail [Converted] text-mid main_icn_Text thumbs-hi-dark tick main_icn_Tick_simple top-up-hi-dark top-up-hi top-up-mid main_icn_Top_up tv-hi-dark main_icn_TV main_icn_Social_Twitter users main_icn_Viewed market_icn_Vodafone_store voice-of-vodafone-alerts-mid voice-of-vodafone-alerts warning-hi-dark warning-hi-dark warning weight white-paper-mid country-or-international-mid market_icn_Multinational social-youtube VF_Logo
Close dialog