Atlas Copco Airpower is a world-leading manufacturer of compressors, vacuum solutions, generators, pumps, power tools, and assembly systems. As an innovative manufacturer, efficient operations are essential, and Atlas Copco is collaborating with Ericsson and Orange Belgium to ensure intelligent manufacturing with 4G and 5G.
The Atlas Copco Airpower factory in Wilrijk, Belgium, is one of the world’s largest and most advanced manufacturing sites for both portable and stationary compressors. At the facility, compressors are designed, developed, and produced for distribution around the world. With 20,000 m² at the Airpower facility site, Ericsson Dedicated Networks delivers secure, reliable, and easy 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. The smart and streamlined factory floor contributes to improved production performance.
"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,” says Wouter Ceulemans, President of the Airtec division, 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,” says Werner De Laet, Chief Enterprise Officer, Orange Belgium.
“Ericsson has been in the communications business for 140 years. It took us 100 years to connect buildings on earth, and the last 40 years has been about mobile communication. 1G was voice, 2G was SMS, 3G was data, and 4G was all the millions of apps you have on your phone. Now, 5G is about industries. That’s why we are here deploying Industry Connect as a dedicated network on site.” Erik Josefsson, Head of Advanced Industries at Ericsson.
Among industries, there is an increasing trend to transition to 5G ready dedicated networks to enable intelligent manufacturing. Most recently, ABB Power Grids in Ludvika, Sweden, has also connected cordless screwdrivers in their manufacturing site. Scania, Europe’s largest manufacturer of trucks and buses, has piloted projects at their Smart Factory Lab to explore how 5G technology can be introduced in their production.
In a recent study, a report from ABI Research forecasts that the smart manufacturing market will grow to USD 1 trillion by 2030. Smart manufacturing connection revenue will grow at a CAGR of 21% from 2018 to 2030, reaching USD 35 billion by 2030. Wireless connections will contribute 72%. With these numbers, the market potential looks bright for 5G ready smart factories.
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