>> Ford Motor Company’s engine plant in Valencia, Spain, is to benefit from Ericsson 5G connectivity in a new European Commission and European ICT industry-backed initiative to drive Industry 4.0 momentum. Major international partners are also involved in the initiative.

Autonomous automated guided vehicles (AGV) fleet management, smart AGV operations based on human gesture recognition and virtual reality (VR) applications are the main next-generation capabilities to be tested at the facility.

Edge computing, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence are among the technologies that Ericsson connectivity will enable for the pilot. The aim is to optimize logistics processes and distribution chains within the factory warehouses to improve efficiency, including production line efficiency.

Called 5G-INDUCE, the pilot initiative is part of Horizon 2020 5G Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP) – a joint initiative between the European Commission and the European ICT industry focused on delivering innovative 5G solutions for next-generation communication infrastructures. The 5G-INDUCE initiative is specifically related to the Industry 4.0 vertical sector.

The other 5G-INDUCE partners are ASTI Mobile Robotics, Fivecomm, YBVR, Intel, Gestoos, University of Burgos and Universitat Politecnica de Valencia.

Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and Core solutions for 5G Standalone New Radio (NR) standalone will be provided through a dedicated 5G Standalone network deployed at the plant, which employs about 900 people.

Ericsson’s dedicated 5G Standalone network will enable innovation and experimentation from the other partners. The offering will utilize and build on 5G assets connected to the 5TONIC co-creation laboratory - the open research and innovation lab for 5G technologies founded by Telefónica and IMDEA Networks. Intel, also a 5TONIC member, will contribute to the project with its edge computing technologies and innovation ecosystem.

Alejandro del Portillo, Manufacturing Engineering and New Technologies Department, Ford’s Valencia Engine Plant, says: "New technologies can vastly improve production line efficiency, therefore increasing innovation capacity. This is essential given today’s competitive environment, and 5G is an instrumental tool to help us achieve this objective."

Manuel Lorenzo, Head of Technology and Innovation, Ericsson Spain, says: "The potential of 5G technology is being unlocked as digitalization of industries is advancing and as more and more complementary players partner to shape new innovation ecosystems."

He adds: "The 5G-INDUCE project is a great example of this momentum – gathering world-class innovation in Industry 4.0, robotics, 5G, edge computing, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and counting on the support of the EU 5G-PPP program. Ericsson is glad to contribute with our technology and expertise in 5G solutions to the success of this initiative."

About the partners

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 45,000 employees at its wholly-owned facilities and consolidated joint ventures and approximately 59,000 people when unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 19 manufacturing facilities (12 wholly-owned facilities and seven unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911. 

ASTI Mobile Robotics is involved in the engineering and development of made-to-measure solutions for logistics. ASTI activity goes from the project analysis in material handling and internal logistics to the development, manufacture and starting up of the designed solutions, as well as all the maintenance along the installation life. 

FIVECOMM is a Spanish SME based in Valencia, founded in 2019 by 5G experts. The company is oriented to the development and implementation of 5G solutions for Industry 4.0 and other verticals. 

YBVR. Based in Silicon Valley and Madrid, YBVR is a technology start-up building the next generation VR video distribution platform. 

Gestoos is a leading provider of activity recognition and spatial interaction software with offices in San Francisco and Barcelona. The company's core product is a computer vision-based artificial intelligence solution that enables camera (sensor) equipped devices detect, understand and respond to human gestures, movements and activities 

Universidad de Burgos (UBU) is a mSpanish university located in Burgos, Castilla y León, Spain. UBU ranks sixth among the 84 Spanish universities for its research and innovation performance indicators. 5G-INDUCE activities will be developed by its Joint Research Unit ASTI-UBU on Technologies Applied to Autonomous Vehicles, Mobile Robotics and AGVs. 

Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) is a university dedicated to research and teaching. The Institute of Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications (iTEAM) is a highly valued research centre formed by eight research groups, including the Mobile Communications Group (MCG), gathering more than 150 researchers.