A consortium led by Ford have received government backing for the introduction of 5G connectivity to speed up electric vehicle manufacturing. A 5G mobile private network delivered by Vodafone Business, will be installed this year in the new E:PriME (Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering) facility on Ford’s Dunton Campus. The 5G solution is set to overcome many of the issues surrounding wireless connectivity in the industrial setting. It promises reduced delays, wider bandwidth, improved security and reliability, and faster deployment time.

By the time installation is complete in the autumn, E:PriME Dunton will have the fastest possible connectivity alongside the consortium’s second network at welding research specialists TWI, based in Cambridge. Both sites’ connected equipment will offer real-time control, analysis, and remote expert support, ensuring new manufacturing processes are shop floor ready.

Focusing on manufacturing

Ford will focus on the connectivity of the welding machines in the manufacture of electric vehicles. The batteries and electric motors within an EV require around 1,000 welds. For a single EV product, this could generate more than a half a million pieces of data every minute. Fast, reliable, high capacity data capture and analysis will be a significant requirement of these processes. Connecting the data with experts, such as TWI and manufacturers, is critical if processes are to develop at the same rate as these innovative products demand.

“Connecting today’s shop floor requires significant time and investment,” Chris White, Ford’s 5GEM project lead, said. “Present technology can be the limiting factor in re-configuring and deploying next-gen manufacturing systems. 5G presents the opportunity to transform the speed of launch and flexibility of present manufacturing facilities, moving us towards tomorrow’s plants connected to remote expert support and artificial intelligence.”

Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business added that 5G mobile private networks act as a springboard for organisations, allowing them to rethink the way they do business. “In this case, MPN technology makes the factory of the future possible,” he continued. “It allows machines and computing power to coordinate in real time, improving precision, efficiency, and safety. We’re excited to help Ford plan for the future of its business.”