Huawei Wireless X Labs sets up connected factory SIG to explore 5G applications in smart manufacturing

Ying Weimin of Huawei

Huawei Wireless X Labs has joined hands with several industry partners to announce the establishment of a Wireless Connected Factory Special Interest Group (SIG). This is the third in a series of SIGs created by X Labs, with others focusing on X Labs’ Digital Sky initiative and Wireless eHealth.The Wireless Connected Factory SIG has brought together partners in the field of smart manufacturing to conduct further research and promote extensive applications of 5G communication technologies in Industry 4.0.

The first SIG group meeting was also held, with guidance from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) being provided. All SIG members attended the gathering. These included: Huawei, ABB, Efort, Bosch, Beckhoff, Hikrobot, Geely, KUKA, and Shenyang Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences. Schneider Electric was also present.

Flexible manufacturing based on smart machines will help redefine future production lines. These next-generation machines featuring plug-and-play technology are growing increasingly flexible and can easily be adjusted to suit a diverse range of production domains.

It is important that factories be equipped with dynamic, high-performance communication networks to support such smart machines. Wireless technologies are an invaluable tool that can substantially help to reduce network construction and maintenance costs, while significantly boosting both productivity and safety.

The manufacturing industry holds the most immense potential for IoT applications. According to an analysis completed by Huawei Wireless X Labs, the connections in the manufacturing sector worldwide will reach 12.5 billion by 2020, with factory networks accounting for US $50 billion(€42.61 billion) of the potential market.

At the start of 2017, X Labs targeted wireless robotics as one of its main focuses in wireless use case research. After over half a year of hard work, X Labs and its partners decided upon the Wireless Connected Factory SIG’s four research priorities, namely cloud-based programmable logic controllers (PLC), wireless industrial cameras, wireless controlled automated guided vehicles (AGV), and industrial wearables.

Xu Heyuan, deputy chief engineer of CAICT said: “The release of the ‘Internet plus advanced manufacturing’ guidelines will promote the development of the industrial Internet and upgrade the traditional manufacturing sector. Wireless distributed intelligent communication technologies are set to play a fundamental role in the transformation of the manufacturing industry.”

“The formation of the Wireless Connected Factory SIG will help accelerate the development of all related technologies. The Industrial Internet Industry Alliance is fully prepared to work with the SIG towards jointly exploring all associated technologies, standards, and industries.”

“The mission of exploring future wireless use cases lies with X Labs,” said Ying Weimin, Huawei Wireless Research and Development President. “Huawei hopes that SIGs such as those set up by X Labs can discover and inspire many more 5G use cases and promote 5G technologies’ application in future smart manufacturing. Such efforts will contribute to the rise of connected factories. Huawei will work diligently alongside its partners to simulate further growth and innovation.”

The meeting also witnessed the signing of several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Huawei and ABB, Hikrobot, Effort, Geely, and Beckhoff. MoUs help lay a solid foundation for additional cooperation between Huawei and its partners, and are bound to stimulate the further development of the SIG.

As 5G technologies rapidly mature, the Wireless Connected Factory SIG will fully utilize the Wireless X Labs’ innovative platform and stands by the principles of exploration, innovation, and cooperatively building ecosystems. The SIG members will exert tremendous joint efforts in Research and Development to facilitate industry development and build better wireless connected factories in the future.

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