5G ultra-low latency propels jet engine manufacturing
Ericsson together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology are researching how 5G can improve manufacturing processes.
One example is the production of blade integrated discs, blisks, used in i.e. jet engines. This is one of the most demanding processes of all in metal manufacturing. Precision and accuracy is vital. This high value component is milled out of a since piece of metal in a process that can take a full day or longer.
Today, there is no satisfactory way to monitor and correct the process while under way, and the result is revealed only when the entire milling process is completed. A live 5G system was set up to verify how the new technology can change this.
Ericsson’s 5G trial system operating on 3.5 GHz is connected to a vibration sensor mounted directly on the blisk in the production machinery. The vibration spectrum is transmitted and evaluated in real time via 5G to the control system. The very low latency helps correlate the vibration to the tool’s position and enable prompt adjustment of the production process. Real time in metal manufacturing means very fast control loops, below 1 ms.
The continuous real time data transfer over 5G also allows the generation of a digital twin, a virtual reflection of the component to be generated, showing the details of the process results.
The blisk pilot shows the technical capabilities of 5G such as ultra-low latency of close to 1 millisecond, which is vital for in-process, time-critical manufacturing applications. While the blisk is an extreme example, the manufacturing problem is generic and ubiquitous: vibration and chatter during milling is a very common and complicated problem. Real time monitoring of the process would enable saving a lot of rework time as deviations can be corrected before they become severe.