Ericsson is spending €155 million on a smart manufacturing and technology hub in Europe as it seeks to forge stronger links between R&D and production.

Mary Lennighan

July 5, 2023

3 Min Read
Ericsson to site new European tech hub in Estonia

Ericsson is spending €155 million on a smart manufacturing and technology hub in Europe as it seeks to forge stronger links between R&D and production.

The Swedish kit vendor announced this week that it will consolidate four facilities in Estonia into a single, 50,000 square metre smart hub that will include test labs, warehouses, production lines, and offices. It’s pretty excited about the plan, but you could argue that it’s jumping the gun slightly on the PR, given that it hasn’t actually bought the site yet.

In fact, it has essentially just taken the first step, noting that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire property to build this smart hub. However, the deal is not expected to close until the fourth quarter of 2024, subject to certain, unspecified, conditions. As such, the hub, located in the Ülemiste City business park in Tallinn, will begin operations in early 2026.

“This move is in line with Ericsson’s long-term strategy for a more resilient and sustainable supply chain, significantly reducing our carbon footprint and harnessing the power of 5G for smart manufacturing,” said Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and Head of Networks at Ericsson.

“Our entire production landscape globally is being digitalized and, as we have done in the U.S., this will strengthen the link between our R&D and new product introduction to ensure every product we manufacture not only benefits our customers but are also produced with as low environmental impact as possible,” Jejdling said.

Ericsson targets a 70% – well, technically “up to” 70% – reduction in carbon emissions compared with the four Estonian facilities the new hub will replace, and noted that it also supports its target of becoming net zero by 2030 in its own operations.

It also plays into the by now familiar vendor narrative of supporting operator customers in their own quests for net zero, given that it will support the production of a highly energy-efficient product portfolio.

“By upgrading existing 4G sites to 5G, CSPs can increase their network capacity by up to 10 times while reducing energy consumption by more than 30 percent,” the vendor pointed out.

Coincidentally, Ericsson recently trumpeted hitting a major milestone in 5G equipment. Late last month it revealed that it has shipped 10 million 5G-ready radios worldwide, and shared a handful of statistics on its presence in the global 5G market. Around 50% of 5G traffic outside of China runs on Ericsson networks, Jejdling said in a blog post, adding that 147 live 5G networks are powered by Ericsson, including 25 standalone 5G networks.

Jejdling also threw in a reference to Ericsson’s energy-efficient solutions designed to improve the environmental impact of 5G then too.

“We are committed to being at the forefront of sustainable operations in Europe as we revolutionize our manufacturing process jointly with our partners and customers, and support the scale up of 5G deployment,” the executive added, alongside the new smart hub announcement. “This smart hub will be powered 100 percent by renewable electricity and built with optimal efficiency through AI, machine learning, robotics, and other advanced Industry 4.0 technologies.”

The sustainability message coming from Ericsson and its peers is nothing new, and if anything, we’re only going to hear more of it in the coming years. But it’s good to see a major equipment maker putting its money where its mouth is to create a new mega-facility with sustainability at its core…even if it will be a few more years in the making.

 

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About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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