VW installs 5G network, paving the way for smarter factories
Volkswagen has commissioned an autonomous 5G wireless network at its main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, to test whether 5G meets the demands of vehicle production, before adopting the technology more widely in the future. A scenario tested during the pilot phase will be to download data wirelessly to manufactured vehicles. With increasing levels of digitization in vehicles, large amounts of data must be transmitted to cars during production. 5G will allow this to be done much faster and at any point in production.
To strengthen its expertise in 5G and ensure data security, Vokswagen sets up and operates the 5G infrastructure itself, using Nokia equipment. The German Federal Network Agency has allocated VW a private frequency of 3.7 to 3.8 GHz with a bandwidth of 100 MHz for the Wolfsburg project. This use of proprietary spectrum is essential to achieve the high availability, interference-free 5G transmission that VW needs for production purposes.
“We believe that 5G technology has great potential for innovation,” says Christian Vollmer, VW board member responsible for production and logistics, “of the use of intelligent robots and transport systems driverless to network control of installations and machines in real time, to wireless software flash of manufactured vehicles.
“By implementing our acceleration strategy, we are working at full speed to transform our Volkswagen sites into smart factories,” he adds. “Our goal is to continuously optimize our production and make it even more efficient and flexible.
The Wolfsburg plant already has around 5,000 working robots, as well as many other machines and systems. VW needs secure and timely data transmission to control and monitor it. One of the attractions of 5G is that it reduces latency – the time it takes for data to be sent over the network – significantly compared to other wireless technologies such as WLANs. With 5G, latencies can be as short as 1ms, while data transmission rates are in the gigabit range, and reliability is expected to be high. VW predicts that the fast and reliable transfer of real-time data will increase efficiency and flexibility, and make many smart factory applications possible for the first time.
The pilot project initially covers the main production development center and the pilot hall at the Wolfsburg site. In the longer term, VW expects the network to cover a large part of the 6.5 km2 to place.
Volkswagen believes high-speed, low-latency 5G wireless transmissions will unlock many smart factory applications
In addition to the 5G pilot project in Wolfsburg, VW is also commissioning a “5G island” at its “transparent factory” in Dresden – a factory where it is testing innovative technologies for the pilot-scale production of its ID electric vehicles. 3. It is also developing network control for an autonomous transport system at the site, in collaboration with Porsche, Audi and the Dresden University of Technology. The sensors transmit data from driverless vehicles to the cloud via 5G, which is used to calculate the best route for vehicles to reach body ID. 3. The information is sent back in real time.
“Efficient real-time wireless communication will be crucial for flexible production in the future,” said Beate Hofer, VW Group Chief Information Officer. “5G has the potential to be one of those engines of the Industrial Internet of Things. Our goal is therefore to acquire extensive experience in the exploitation and industrial use of 5G technology. “