Ericsson reveals smart factory in US to accelerate production of 5G radios
Ericsson is to build a fully-automated smart factory in the US, opening from 2020, to build its 5G radios and accelerate 5G rollout in the country.
The factory will use industrial 5G for connecting machines and sensors to edge compute and cloud analytics programmes, to enable near real-time data processing, remote control, and low-laytency industrial applications.
In its announcement, Ericsson cited applications including automated warehouses, connected logistics and automated assembly, packing and product handling, and the use of autonomous carts.
The Swedish vendor said the facility, featuring automated operations and modular production, will slot into its global supply chain, and help it to serve its various customers locally, making deliveries “fast and agile”. It comes as part of the company’s increased investment in the market, focused on more rapid production and delivery capabilities, as well as more localised research and development work.
Ericsson is also “fast-tracking” new smart manufacturing capabilities in its factories in Estonia, China and Brazil. Each site will incorporate a modular and flexible production setup.
Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of networks at Ericsson, said: “We continue to focus on working closely with our customers and supporting them in the buildout of 5G globally and in North America. We are digitalising our entire global production landscape, including establishing this factory in the US. With 5G connectivity we’re accelerating Industry 4.0, enabling automated factories for the future.”
The US factory will produce Ericsson’s Advanced Antenna Systems, its line of street macro radios for urban network densification and rural 5G rollout. They come with integrated RAN compute baseband functionality, designed for densification in metropolitan areas, where rooftop sites are hard to come by.
The location of the new factory has not yet been revealed. It will be announced after discussions with state and local authorities are completed, it said. Ericsson will employ around 100 staff at the site.
The company started operations via a production partner for the first radios for the US market produced at the end of 2018. The company has also established a new software development centre in Austin, Texas, focused on core microelectronics in 5G radio base stations. The 1,400-square-metre facility will have 80 employees, once fully staffed.
The US is Ericsson’s largest market, accounting for a quarter of its business over the last seven years. Ericsson predicts 5G subscriptions will reach 150 million by the end of 2023, accounting for 48 per cent of all mobile subscriptions in North America.
In 2018, Ericsson also announced a new software development centre with baseband focus, employing more than 200 software engineers once fully operational, and plans to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, with 100 new appointments.