- Industrial machinery is connected to new 5G technology in order to process data generated in real time with edge computing.
- With these data the factory is virtualised to run massive simulations that can be used for operational decision-making in a smart, flexible, connected and wireless factory.
- The project has arisen from collaboration among Mobile World Capital Barcelona, Telefónica and Gestamp, within the framework of the 5G Barcelona initiative, as part of its vision to move forward in digitalisation.
Madrid, 10 November 2020.- Telefónica and Gestamp, a multinational company that designs, develops and manufactures automobile components, have implemented a 5G-connected factory use case in one of its Barcelona plants to boost Industry 4.0 with this technology.
The project, which is the first 5G-digitalised factory for industrial processes in Spain, consists in completely virtualising a factory and connecting it to 5G in order to improve the decision-making process. Telefónica has specifically connected the plant’s physical elements, such as its robotic welding cells, via 5G to capture and process data produced by this industrial equipment in real-time while in operation, using proximity capabilities made possible through multi-access edge computing (MEC).
The data gathered from the different industrial devices are therefore processed closer than data in the cloud, which means they can be analysed in real-time to make the smart factory concept a reality.
The entire process is completed by connecting the physical elements with a digital twin, a virtual model of the factory processes that is fed with data received through 5G in such a way that it is possible to perform simulations, optimise the decision-making process and thus streamline the factory’s operation.
The ultimate goal is flexible, accurate and better decision-making based on the best scenarios established by the model.
The data processing and simulations necessary in the digital twin require broad computing, memory and storage capacity. All these capabilities are offered by the Edge Data Center service, a virtualised environment that Telefónica is deploying on several sites. This project is using the infrastructure located in Barcelona, which is very close to the Gestamp factory.
Additionally, both the 5G client units at Gestamp and the mobile network have been configured for the factory generated traffic to reach the MEC directly, without unnecessary jumps either in the network or online, thus ensuring low communication latency with the digital twin.
A survey and subsequent laboratory trials with 5G-router solutions and prototypes were also performed to select the devices that ultimately best suit the project’s requirements.
According to René González, Director of Advanced Manufacturing of Gestamp, “the company has been working for some years on a smart, connected factory model that seeks to increase the flexibility of its industrial facilities to yield manufacture better suited to customers’ specific needs. The 5G connectivity project is part of this strategy. The adoption of 5G technology is part of a process that is occurring at a time of great technological disruption in the automotive industry, with the appearance of the connected electric car, and in an environment in which vehicle manufacturers are increasingly customising their models. Manufacturing must therefore adapt and add this layer of software and smartness so that we can operate differently”.
Mercedes Fernández, Innovation Director of Telefónica Spain, meanwhile highlighted that “with this use case, alongside Gestamp we are making the connected factory concept a reality and taking a significant step in Industry 4.0, one of the keys for the development of 5G and Edge Computing. Telefónica therefore considers progress in new technology use cases, both in the professional and private spheres, essential to make sense of 5G in order that it may offer solutions and answers the needs of users by helping to define applications that improve processes and transform the way things are done”.
With this use case, Telefónica and Gestamp are establishing a new milestone for the implementation of 5G in Spain, which the operator also pioneered in 2018 with 5G Technological Cities. That initiative allowed for the development of use cases for the new technology which have served to build and consolidate the 5G ecosystem. Since the outset, Catalonia has been a priority scenario in 5G Technological Cities. To date, Telefónica has run over twelve 5G projects, some of which have had an impact worldwide as they have been exhibited at MWC Barcelona. They significantly involve collaboration with the public authorities, research centres and organisations such as Mobile World Capital Barcelona. The project actually arose from collaboration among Mobile World Capital Barcelona, Telefónica and Gestamp, within the framework of the 5G Barcelona initiative, as part of their shared vision to move forward in digitalisation.