Home5GSaab deploys private 5G network from Nokia at Airbus / Boeing factory in Sweden

Saab deploys private 5G network from Nokia at Airbus / Boeing factory in Sweden

Aerospace and defence company Saab has deployed a factory-wide private 5G network at a manufacturing plant in Sweden. The facility in Linköping, in the south of the country, produces ‘aerostructures’, notably for Airbus and Boeing. 

The deployment has been organised by Swedish tech consultancy Combitech using 5G equipment from Finnish telecoms vendor Nokia. Combitech, based in Östersund, has had handled spectrum frequencies and project management, it said, including the relationship with Nokia. Local system integrator Vinnergi has been engaged to handle the network engineering itself. 

The project is starting with LTE in the upper part of the 1.8 GHz band, which works for indoor coverage; it will migrate to 5G in the second quarter of 2021, according to Combitech, as the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) releases spectrum for industrial usage, expected to be at 3.72-3.8 GHz (band N78).

Combitech commented: “Initially the network is [being] put into operation on LTE, but we will switch to 5G as soon as PTS releases the planned frequency space for private networks for Swedish industry and business. The plan for this is the second quarter of 2021; tools and other devices that are connected will need to support 5G.”

Seperately, 25MHz of the 2.6 GHz band in Sweden is sub-licensed to Edzcom, formerly Ukkoverkot, which is being deployed for industrial LTE betworks. Nokia has a close working relationship with Edzcom. Network operator Three is also renting out 50MHz of its 2.6 GHz frequency holding in Sweden in bid to boost local industry – and to stop regulator PTS carving-up the 3.5 GHz band for private usage.

Saab’s 5G setup, being used in the manufacturing of aircraft doors and wing structures for various companies in the space and defense industries, is billed as the first “full-scale” manufacturing plant to be equipped with private 5G in Sweden. The Linköping plant claims a reputation for “lean” and highly-automated manufacturing.

Combitech said the newly 5G-equipped production facility invites “more and more automated processes and self-driving vehicles”, and enables the facility to “collect large amounts of production data to analyze and automate” and track material flows, monitor machine usage, and run predictive and preventative maintenance. The need to retain manufacturing data on site was a key consideration for the deployment, it said.

The firm commented: “Security requirements are becoming increasingly important in a world where hacking and cyberattacks are on the rise. Data generated by IoT solutions in a facility [and] between people is a business-critical asset. The possibility of control and security are two crucial factors when industry and business choose private mobile networks, where you can keep all business data and hardware on-site.”

Magnus Bergström, head of Saab’s aerostructures business unit, said: “We are building the next generation of smart production systems. With a fully connected factory, we get the opportunity for a better working environment and a more efficient production.”

Per Åkesson, business area manager at Combitech, said: “Treating large amounts of data, from different devices, often in real time, requires a really fast, secure and stable mobile connection. With private mobile networks, Saab now gets a complete platform for a connected factory, which meets those requirements. It is only with your own mobile network that you can really take full advantage of the possibilities of digitalisation and realize Industry 4.0.”

Combitech works in the manufacturing industry, defence sector, and public sector. Vinnergi calls itself a “new-generation” technology consultant, geared towards “smarter”, and more “energy-efficient” and “efficient” industrial communication and infrastructure deployments. Nokia claims to have deployed 220 private LTE and 5G networks, with the lion’s share coming in the past 12 months.

Speaking to Enterprise IoT Insights in the latest episode in the new Private Wireless Podcast series, Stephane Dauble, head of marketing for enterprise solutions at Nokia, said: “Between 2015, when we started on this road, and the end of 2019, Nokia managed to secure around 120 customers for private wireless; that is 120 customers in four years while in 2020. In just nine months in 2020, we have almost doubled that number, to well over 220. It shows how fast things have moved in 2020.”

Saab sold its automotive business in 1990 to General Motors; it had jointly-owned the unit with commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania for two decades. General Motors took full control from private equity firm Investor AB in 2000, and sold the business to Dutchmanufacturer Spyker Cars in 2010. Saab continued with aerospace manufacturing in Sweden, retaining the right also to use the original griffin logo.

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