Connecting Factories for Smarter Production
Furthering its journey to fully networked smart factories, Volkswagen has launched a local 5G standalone network - ‘campus network’ - at its main plant in Wolfsburg. The network initially covers the main production development centre and pilot hall.
This pilot project will see Volkswagen test whether 5G technology will meet the requirement demands vehicle production presents. Should this be successful, Volkswagen plans to develop this further for its industrial series production in the future. To ensure the transmission of data is secure and delay-free, Volkswagen has implemented a dedicated 5G radiofrequency.
The setup and operation of its 5G infrastructure from Volkswagen are hoped to develop the company’s competitive expertise when it comes to using this technology for the future and ensuring data security.
“In implementing our ACCELERATE strategy we are working at full speed to transform our Volkswagen sites into smart factories. Our goal is to continuously optimize our production and make it even more efficient and flexible. We believe that 5G technology has great potential for innovation, from the use of intelligent robots and driverless transportation systems to networked control of plant and machinery in real-time up to wireless software flashing of manufactured vehicles,” said Christian Vollmer, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand responsible for Production and Logistics.
Real-Time Data Transfers
Volkswagen Wolfsburg currently operates 5,000 robots, alongside many machines and systems, to control and monitor these, the automotive manufacturer will require secure, delay-free transmission of data.
With 5G, Volkswagen can significantly reduce the latency of data transfers with a 5G network compared to other wireless communication technologies. “This real-time wireless communication will make many smart factory applications possible for the first time,” said Volkswagen.
At Wolfsburg, the company plans to test this in a real-life laboratory, wirelessly uploading data to manufactured vehicles. “With ever-higher levels of digitisation and fully connected vehicles, the production process requires large amounts of data to be transmitted to the cars. 5G makes it possible to perform this much more quickly and at any time during production,” added Volkswagen.
Implementing the 5G Network
Setting up and operating the local 5G network itself, Volkswagen, to do has been allocated a private radio frequency at 3.7 to 3.7 GHz with 100MHz bandwidth by the Federal Network Agency.
“Efficient wireless communication in real-time will be crucial for flexible production in the future. 5G has the potential to be one such driver of the Industrial Internet of Things. Our aim is, therefore, to build up extensive experience in the operation and industrial use of 5G technology,” said Beate Hofer, CIO of the Volkswagen Group.
Nokia will be supplying the equipment required for the 5G pilot network.
Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden
Part of the 5G competence network, Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden, has also been upgraded with a 5G island. Volkswagen is also developing a networked control for a driverless transportation system in collaboration with Porsche, Audi, and the Dresden University of Technology.
Using 5G the driverless transportation system will transmit environment data to the cloud, which then calculates the route to an ID.3 body, sending back information in real-time. These projects are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.