Italian operator Tim, kit vendor Ericsson and automation/robotics firm Comau promise ‘innovative solutions for Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing’ thanks to some 5G network slicing.

Andrew Wooden

June 16, 2022

3 Min Read
Automation technology and smart industry concept on blurred abstract background. Gears and icons.

Italian operator TIM, Swedish kit vendor Ericsson and Italian automation/robotics firm Comau promise ‘innovative solutions for Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing’ thanks to some fresh 5G network slicing.

Tim and Ericsson deployed a 5G network in Comau’s HQ in Turin, Italy, in order to demonstrate what network slicing in industrial settings might be capable of. Or as they rather more bombastically put it ‘to test the factory of the future’.

One experiment they are working on involves capturing the movement of a robot and producing a synchronized digital twin through an ultra-low latency radio link, which can be then used for various optimisation and other clever virtualised tinkering.

Another is around the idea of monitoring industrial assets in real time. IoT sensors are dotted around all over the place and stream data to an application that can improve predictive maintenance planning, production processes and quality. The idea here at a very basic level is that flaws can be spotted and fixed quicker, but they are also playing around with using the connections to build augmented reality devices for monitoring.

It’s also working on ‘immersive telepresence for an enhanced remote support scenario.’ What’s that then? The idea is that maintenance staff present on site can be assisted remotely by an expert elsewhere via augmented reality, which the low latency of a 5G slice apparently makes possible.

“Comau is committed to defining a disruptive automation paradigm, which involves the use of external sensors to perceive the automation environments and centralize in real time the data perceived to a central “brain”,” said Alessandro Piscioneri, Digital Solutions and Services Segment Leader at Comau. “The information collected is used to automatically define and optimize the tasks to be performed by the machines in a flexible and efficient way. The 5Growth project, which we have developed in close collaboration with important partners TIM and Ericsson, has enabled Comau to directly field test the value of the private 5G technology as an enabling factor for this innovative architecture, especially in a mobile robotics context.”

Alessandro Pane, Research and Development Director, Ericsson Italy added: “Together with TIM and Comau we have demonstrated some applications that are indispensable in a rapidly evolving manufacturing context, where production needs to be safer, faster and more flexible. Network slicing will play a crucial role in enabling innovative services, accelerating the digital transformation of all enterprises. With the tools that have been developed in Ericsson’s R&D centres in Italy, and can efficiently manage network resources and provide differentiated services with dedicated performance, operators can now enable new use cases for different industrial sectors and leverage new market opportunities.”

Fellow kit vendor Nokia is also busy in the in the smart factory space, with an announcement today that it has teamed up with South Korean firm LS Electronics – which specialises in fields such as automation, smart power and smart transportation – to work on new models for factory automation and data centre and electric vehicle charging services. Nokia will also provide technical expertise related to smart factory infrastructure, data centre business and EV charging to help modernise its own facilities.


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About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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