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The future factory is wireless, we’ve seen proof at HxGN Live 2019

We attended HxGN Live 2019 and explored the connectivity needs of the smart factory of the future. Today, we’re sharing valuable information about bringing Industry 4.0 to the factory floor.

At the HxGN Live event in Las Vegas in June 2019, Erik Josefsson, Ericsson’s VP and Head of Advanced Industries was on stage with Hexagon’s Norbert Hanke, President Manufacturing Intelligence.
Sasidhar Yalavarthi 

Smart Manufacturing Ecosystem Manager

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Last week, Ericsson attended HxGN Live 2019 in Las Vegas, hosted by our partner Hexagon. During the show, we saw amazing demonstrations and presentations showing how many industries, including manufacturing, will be transformed by data.

The factory of the future will be an entire ecosystem of automated machinery, robots and AGVs (automated guided vehicles) working in careful orchestration. Enabling that ecosystem requires integrated collaboration from many different technology partners, each providing a critical component that allows factories to increase throughput and efficiency while reducing downtime and waste. The factory’s success is most dependent on one key thing: the rapid collection, exchange and analysis of data.

The modern factory is a collaboration

The digital transformation of the modern factory begins with determining a strategy for connecting the devices on the floor, so that data can be collected and put to work. If working with older equipment, a partner like HMS can help retrofit those machines to collect and transmit data. Once they are outfitted, a partner like Hexagon can advise on the wide array of next-generation sensors needed for precise measurements and smarter autonomous machinery. Key to all of this is connecting all the equipment with the ability to analyze and make sense of the data. And that’s where Ericsson comes in. We bring simple, secure and reliable connectivity, easy to deploy, easy to manage.

The need for extreme precision

Hexagon’s mission is to put data to work to enable autonomous, connected ecosystems. While their technology is deployed across many different vertical industries, their Manufacturing Intelligence division provides sensor solutions for the design and engineering, production and metrology (measurement) phases of the manufacturing process. Industrial metrology technology, a market forecasted to reach $16.76 billion by 2026, is a critical component to the manufacturing process and ensures surfaces are precisely flat and circles are perfectly round. By collecting data from these normally discreet areas of the product lifecycle in real-time, manufacturers are able to make data-driven decisions that improve quality and productivity.

At HxGN LIVE

Ericsson’s Erik Josefsson and Doug Woods participated in a keynote presentation -- Smart is Hiding in Plain Sight-- with Norbert Hanke, president of Hexagon. Norbert discussed how “smart” does not just mean connected, it also means “super-agile.” Hexagon did some calculations and determined that a medium-sized factory today has about 800km of cabling. Erik described the inflexibility and expense of those cables and how going wireless with 5G will enable factories to become super-agile and will help realize the vision of a digital-first, infinitely connected factory.

Sasidhar Yalavarthi led a breakout session on Ericsson Industry Connect titled “Ericsson 5G: To optimise your factory floor, optimise your ceiling.” Participants discussed how factories can begin their digital journey with a simple, stable and secure private 4G solution on their way to deploying 5G – all designed to increase efficiency. Sasidhar and Erik also appeared on HxGN TV, explaining how 5G will help smart factories.

What we heard

Throughout the event, we heard about many use cases that are dependent on reliable, secure, wireless connectivity. For instance, Hexagon showed an augmented reality demo that takes predictive maintenance to the next level. With a tablet pointed at a Hexagon machine, the tablet shows the interior of the machine with color coding showing which parts are OK (green), which will need maintenance in the near future (yellow), and which need more immediate attention (red).

In addition, in one of the keynote presentations, we saw the just-announced Leica BLK2GO, a small portable, completely integrated handheld-imaging 3D scanner from Hexagon. Because it is a portable device that generates large amounts of data, we believe that reliable, secure, wireless connectivity will be crucial to its operation.


Do you have what it takes?

Data can save the world. However, orchestrating the symphony required for modern manufacturing facilities to achieve their goal of using every drop of data to their advantage will require a lot of collaboration. Will you join Ericsson in helping factories become smarter and realize their goal of becoming a “lights out factory”, a new term that describes the vision of a fully automated factory? Want to learn more about what we are doing in Industry 4.0? Want to learn more about what we are doing in Industry 4.0 and become a member of the Ericsson community?

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