European telecom Orange will explore how 5G can benefit the growing needs of Industry 4.0 by outfitting the next-generation wireless technology inside Lacroix’s electronics plant in Montrevault-sur-Evre, France.
The factory specializes in the design and production of embedded systems and industrial connected objects. 5G will allow manufacturers to develop the concept of a modular factory as well as improve the technical management of buildings.
Orange will carry out full-scale testing of a 5G system inside the French factory with the deployment of an indoor 5G network based on Ericsson equipment. This will include four indoor 5G antennas installed inside the plant, broadcasting experimental frequencies to cover the production space. Orange will operate a virtualized network core, distributed between the premises of Orange and the Lacroix electronics plant.
Part of the collaboration will include providing Lacroix with more flexibility in the organization of machines. The installation of the production islands in the factory may eventually be modified according to the type of production needed. For example, high resolution photos of electronic processes could provide real-time verification of the quality of welds and the presence of components can be performed. Taking and sending images in real time combined with machine learning can improve detection algorithms and help ensure no errors in the batches are produced or if a readjustment of a machine is needed.
Lacroix said 5G will allow a response to the increased number of sensors inside the Montrevault-sur-Evre factory and can support up to 1 million sensors per square kilometer. These sensors will make it possible to calculate the carbon footprint and power consumption required for production of each product in the future.
“The French electronics industry is changing, and our industry needs to be able to rely on wireless technology that can cope with the massification of data at our plants,” said Vincent Bedouin, CEO LACROIX Group. “This data is the information that will enable us to carry out predictive maintenance or provide reliable and secure information to our customers in real time. This co-innovation feeds our Smart Industry strategy and our electronic factory of the future — Symbiose — which will be launched in late 2021.”