Ericsson helps Atlas Copco Airpower to get ready for smart manufacturing
Atlas Copco Airpower, a manufacturer of compressors, vacuum solutions, generators, pumps, power tools, and assembly systems is collaborating with Ericsson and Orange Belgium to ensure intelligent manufacturing with 4G and 5G technologies.
The Atlas Copco Airpower factory in Wilrijk, Belgium, is one of the world’s largest manufacturing sites for both portable and stationary compressors. At the facility, compressors are designed, developed, and produced for distribution around the world. At the facility, Ericsson Dedicated Networks delivers wireless connectivity to support and improve remote management and manufacturing productivity.
With stable connectivity provided by the dedicated network, autonomous guided vehicles are controlled wirelessly with cameras and environmental monitoring sensors across the factory. Portable tools, fixed tools, and machinery can also be connected to the network, Ericsson said.
“This technology gives us the possibility to connect our machines wirelessly instead of the traditional way with cables. The really exciting use cases will come when we can make use of low latency. The case that wraps it all together for us is, of course, security. We can all do this in a secure environment. I think that the factory of the future will be a lot more autonomous, automated and intelligent,” said Wouter Ceulemans, president of the Airtec division at Atlas Copco.
“Orange Belgium guarantees secure mobile connectivity for the industry. Manufacturers require this for their critical business. They need full availability of the system, 24/7. Also, they want to have data protection and data integrity, and our network enables this. So together with the partners, we rolled out a mobile network. We brought our mobile connectivity know how, which means the spectrum and our expertise in devices,” said Werner De Laet, CEO of Orange Belgium.
Ericsson noted that there is an increasing trend to transition to 5G ready dedicated networks to enable intelligent manufacturing. The Swedish vendor had recently announced that ABB Power Grids will use the 5G-ready Ericsson Industry Connect system at its transformer factory in Ludvika in Sweden, in order to increase productivity and performance.
ABB Power Grids provides product, system, software and service solutions that are designed to meet the growing demand for electricity with minimum environmental impact. These solutions support utility, industry and transport and infrastructure customers to plan, build, operate and maintain their power infrastructure.
Initially, the Ludvika factory is connecting essential tools such as cordless screwdrivers as part of its digitalization process. Further on, handheld computers will also be connected in order to improve connectivity quality and efficiency compared to their current solution, according to Ericsson.
Scania, Europe’s largest manufacturer of trucks and buses, has also piloted projects at their Smart Factory Lab to explore how 5G technology can be introduced in their production, Ericsson said.
A recent report from ABI Research forecasts that the smart manufacturing market will grow to $1 trillion by 2030. Smart manufacturing connection revenue will grow at a CAGR of 21% from 2018 to 2030, reaching $35 billion by 2030. Wireless connections will contribute 72%.