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Austria uses 5G technology to improve production

The time of Industry 4.0 requires industrial production lines to operate rapidly and efficiently. To do so requires the use of robots and for robots to function efficiently wireless technology is required. The upcoming generation of 5G mobile communications will enable new efficiencies to in-built into the manufacturing process.

In this context, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology has entered into partnership with Siemens Austria to develop new technologies. The project is called the UNWIRE research project, and this is designed to look at how radio wave propagation, based on 5G technologies, can be used in industrial settings.

The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is Austria’s largest research and technology organization. The Institute includes the Center for Digital Safety & Security, which is focused on developing modern information and communication technologies together with systems designed to establish secure and reliable critical infrastructure.

The current project is based on the premise that industrial production lines need to be significantly reconfigured to enable process equipment to be rapidly adjusted to enable differently configured products to be manufactured. One current obstacle to this is where production systems are restricted due to their control systems being based on fixed wiring.

To achieve scalable flexible production, process systems need wireless transmission methods and much reduced latency times (reaction times for adjustments to be made). This means replacing cable connections with highly wireless communication systems like next-generation 5G.

5G will permit improved communications between sensors, actuators (like motors) and processing units (such as production line control systems), such as super-fast cycle times of 0.1 milliseconds, which represents a 100-fold improvement on existing wired technologies.

In communication with Digital Journal, Thomas Zemen, a project manager with AIT, said: “We measure the properties of radio waves in complex and large-scale industrial settings. This data is used to assess the performance of future industrial wireless systems. This allows us to examine and validate the most effective signal processing algorithms and diversity mechanisms for the robust operation of a wireless communications system in real-world industrial scenarios.”

He adds: “In doing so we can pave the way for flexible production processes, which allow for increased capacity utilization and minimize conversion costs.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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