Deutsche Telekom builds 5G partnerships for smart factories

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Deutsche Telekom builds 5G partnerships for smart factories

  • E&K Automation GmbH, Konica Minolta and Endress+Hauser on board
  • Campus networks with new functions for industry 4.0
  • Telekom ecosystem around 5G for industry continues to grow

Deutsche Telekom is further expanding its 5G ecosystem for the industry.

In addition to the partnership with network supplier Ericsson, specialists for smart production and development are also joining the team. New partners are EK Automation, Konica Minolta and Endress+Hauser.

New functions for industry 4.0

With its campus networks, Telekom is the first network operator to offer an infrastructure for the smart factory of tomorrow. The business models and thus the requirements vary greatly from industry to industry.

To meet these needs, Deutsche Telekom counts on integrating existing technologies into the 5G infrastructure. This creates new solutions and opportunities for industry. Typical application areas for these technologies are production or logistics:

  • Automated guided vehicle systems (AGVs) already support logistics processes on company premises today. They are now connected to the local IT system via a campus network. This significantly improves the mobile connection, e.g. compared to WiFi. And the use of so-called edge solutions significantly increases the computing power of the AGVs. An Edge Cloud shifts complex computing processes from a remote data center to a computer on the factory premises. Data is processed faster in this way. The vehicles can react to obstacles in real time.
  • Augmented reality glasses are already being used by industry today. Especially when service personnel maintain machines and support the back office via video call. Such functions require high data rates: And they need a stable and fast connection. This minimizes reaction times and ensures a high level of convenience during use. A clear case for 5G.
  • Industrial measurement technology is used for the safe and reliable control of systems. But it also provides valuable information for optimizing production and operational processes. In a campus network, this data is reliably transmitted and processed in the shortest possible time.

“Our development of a complete 5G ecosystem for industry will accelerate the pace of digitization in industry. This will strengthen Germany’s position in global competition,” emphasizes Claudia Nemat, Board member for Technology and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom. “We enjoy working with renowned and experienced partners. More and more industries are being added. In this way, our offering is becoming increasingly complete.”

Strong partners for smart production

Each partner contributes with specific know-how from the field of Industry 4.0.

EK Automation GmbH joined the Telekom partners in July. It has been manufacturing automated guided vehicle systems since 1980. As one of the European AGV market leaders, the partner is experienced in complex customer projects. Together with the Telekom incubator Hubraum, the company equipped transport robots with 3D cameras this summer. For the first time, the technicians integrated a 3D obstacle detection with dynamic route planning into the Edge Cloud. The transport robot sends the 3D camera images to the cloud for analysis almost in real time via the Telekom 5G network. This enabled the vehicle to immediately avoid obstacles placed in the roadway.

Jan Drömer explains:

“The new 5G mobile communications standard with data rates of more than one gigabit per second opens up new possibilities for us. For example, we can coordinate many transport robots in this way.”

The CIO of EK Automation went on to say: “We will jointly push the use of AGVs for efficient production”.

Konica Minolta has over 140 years of experience in optical systems. Together with Deutsche Telekom, the company is further developing its AIRe Lens. This lightweight augmented reality glasses helps a technician, for example, to assemble machines. It shows step-by-step instructions on the display. The technician keeps his hands free. He can also show the situation to an expert at a remote location. A camera is integrated in the glasses for this purpose. In the future, AIRe Lens will deliver data directly via Telekom’s 5G network.

“In combination with Telekom’s network, AIRe Lens enables us to offer our customers a wearable AR solution,” says Ikuo Nakagawa. The Senior Executive Officer, Digital Workplace Business Unit, Konica Minolta, Inc. explains: “The AR glasses help our customers to make their production processes more efficient. At the same time, it increases the speed and quality of manufacturing.”

Endress+Hauser is a global leader in measurement and automation technology. The company will be one of the first manufacturers to equip its sensors with mobile radio modules. Thanks to 5G, numerous measuring devices can transmit a wealth of process and device data in parallel and in real time. These can, for example, be evaluated in cloud applications for predictive plant maintenance.

“In addition to the actual measured values, our instruments have long recorded a wealth of information from the process and about the sensor. So far, however, this data has hardly been used,” says Matthias Altendorf. The CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group adds: “The 5G campus networks open a second signal path that is independent of the control system. This enables us to link value chains more closely across company boundaries and make industrial processes more efficient”.

Further partners are already in the starting blocks to make Telekom’s campus networks even more versatile. In the medium term, the company wants to be able to respond to the special needs of all industries.

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