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5G goes to work in Ericsson/Vodafone-equipped electric car factory

Schuh Ametsreiter ecar factory.jpg

A German maker of electric cars has put a 5G-powered factory into operation, using technology from Vodafone and Ericsson.

The factory, owned by e.GO Mobile in Aachen, on the German side of the French-Belgian border, uses 5G wireless technology along with mobile edge computing and network slicing to run the production hall.

Günther Schuh (left in picture above), CEO of the car company e.GO Mobile, said the factory “is fully networked in terms of information technology. Connectivity links the physical and the digital world. Vodafone’s 5G network allows us to do this faster and more reliably in real time in the future. At any time, access to relevant information is guaranteed and allows immediate intervention.”

A total of 36 small 5G antennas deliver bandwidth in the gigabit range, said Vodafone, with latency of a few milliseconds in the 8,500 square metre production hall and in the adjoining logistics hall, which is the nearly as large.

Hannes Ametsreiter (right in picture above), CEO of Vodafone Germany, said: “Our automotive industry needs a fast network – directly where the newest and most innovative cars are built”

He added: “Data is an important fuel for modern automotive production. It is all the more important that data does not leave the production hall any more.”

The car company is using the 5G factory to make its electric subcompact car, e.GO Life. According to the motoring media, the smallest model, a four-seater which sells at €15,900, has a 14.9kWh battery feeding a 20kW motor, giving it a range of 121km.

Vodafone says that network slicing in the factory “creates a self-sufficient, tailor-made network for e.GO – exactly optimised for the requirements of series production of the small electric car”.

Schuh described the Aachen plant as “a true Industry 4.0 factory”. He explained: “At any time, access to relevant information is guaranteed and allows immediate intervention.”

The mobile network is self-contained. Within the plant, transport vehicles, machines and tools exchange information in almost real-time – about the current location, the current state of the battery or the planned route. Latency is less than ten milliseconds, said Vodafone.

All production materials and materials are identified without contact via an RFID interface, which also recognises vehicles at the start of production – so that each car can be customised according to a customer’s wishes.

Automated guided vehicles in the factory replace the classic production line and transport the e.GO Life chassis from station to station. Equipped with sensors, the transport robots independently record and store all environmental information, using edge data centres.

In the future, said the companies, autonomous forklift trucks and small trains will also be used to automate the transport of material between warehouses and production halls.

A week ago Vodafone and its three German rivals paid €6.5 billion for 5G spectrum. 

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