Project advancing futuristic, 5G-enabled factories showcased at major government conference

A cutting-edge project using an industrial testbed to help manufacturers unlock and realise the benefits of 5G technology will be showcased as part of a major two-day conference exploring the UK’s path to a 5G future.

The consortium behind the 5G Factory of the Future project is hosting an exhibition at the ‘Be Better Connected’ conference taking place on March 23 and 24, which is jointly delivered by the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and national innovation network UK5G. The event, to be held virtually, brings together for the first time all of the projects in the government’s £200m 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme for collaboration and shared learning between the projects.

Delegates will have the opportunity to find out more about the 5G manufacturing testbed being developed by 5G Factory of the Future and how it will encourage adoption of 5G technologies in manufacturing by increasing understanding of the benefits in a real factory environment. These benefits include better insights, lower costs, higher margins, increased quality, reduced time to market and greatly improve delivery times.

5G Factory of the Future is being delivered by a powerful industrial and academic consortium that includes the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West, BAE Systems, IBM and Digital Catapult, telecommunications and private 5G network provider aql, along with Burnley-based MTT, an SME developer of digitalisation technologies for machine tools, and Lancashire-based data-driven logistics specialist, Miralis.

Prof Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the University of Sheffield AMRC, will host the 5G Factory of the Future’s virtual exhibition alongside project lead Aparajithan Sivanathan from AMRC North West. Prof Scott said it is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how the programme will develop integrated solutions for key challenges in deploying 5G technologies in industry, demystifying the technology and helping the UK to realise the benefits.

“The potential of 5G to enhance manufacturing operations is a result of the capabilities of the technology,” said Prof Scott. “The 5G Factory of the Future industrial testbed will provide potential for new ways of working and will test the most challenging and ground-breaking areas of 5G for manufacturing: increasing bandwidth, decreasing latency, ensuring security across a robust network and augmenting supply chain transparency, ensuring future industrial sustainability.

“This conference is a chance to hear from us about how these benefits are ready to be unlocked by 5G and how they will improve productivity and competitiveness for UK manufacturers.”

Charles Turyagyenda, Senior 5G Technologist at Digital Catapult, said: “With its low latency, enhanced Mobile Broadband and support for edge compute, 5G helps streamline the implementation of advanced, industrial technologies across manufacturing and the wider supply chain.

“The 5G Factory of the Future project will provide businesses with the chance to come together, test 5G’s capabilities and tap into its enormous benefits for UK industry. I’m pleased Better Connected attendees will have the opportunity to hear about the ways this project will help manufacturers sow the seeds of a 5G-enabled future.”

Be Better Connected features a host of speakers over two days who are leaders in 5G and digital technologies, including MP Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, and Andy Curtis who is head of digital economy and creative industries at the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN). Other speakers include Jessica Ellis, head of programme development for the 5G programme at DCMS; Alistair Munro, senior 5G adviser at Digital Catapult; and Rosalind Singleton, chair of the advisory board for UK5G, which is the national network dedicated to promoting research, collaboration and commercial application of 5G in the UK.

The conference is an invite-only internal event for project representatives, partners as well as representatives from UK5G and DCMS. It will be a blend of virtual networking and exhibition areas alongside lightning talks and Q&A sessions, providing attendees with opportunities to gain perspective on the wider 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, the progress to date of each of the 5G projects, as well as the inter-project collaborations that are underway.

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