12 April, 2021: Confirm, the world-leading Science Foundation Ireland research centre in Smart Manufacturing has today announced the successful deployment of the Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed.
The Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed is located at the Confirm Centre for Smart Manufacturing, headquartered within the University of Limerick Digital District, which is one of the most advanced purpose-built manufacturing research facilities in the world. The new Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed at Confirm was designed and deployed under the leadership of Dr Eoin O’Connell, a Funded Investigator in Confirm, to explore ideas and technologies for improving manufacturing environments towards creating smarter factories by utilising the latest wireless technologies such as 5G, 6G and Wifi6. Planning and executing the Innovation Test-Bed was a collaborative effort between Confirm and Netmore. The Innovation Test-Bed was designed by firstly looking at the challenges manufacturing companies face that can benefit from enabling technologies such as 5G, by specifically focussing on test use cases for real-world issues like industrial IoT, robotics and the deployment of mixed reality in manufacturing.
Early tests included a practical study undertaken in December 2020 where an Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle (AIV) was controlled on a 5G network at the Confirm Centre, and we believe this is the first reported case of such 5G wireless robotic control in Ireland. The initial results demonstrate that the integration of 5G as a wireless signaling system within a manufacturing environment is both very promising from an accuracy standpoint and also now a more viable option.
The Innovation Test-Bed promises fast connectivity, more bandwidth and low latency with support for tens of thousands of devices in a small location (5G supports up to 1 million connections per km2), all of which are attractive prospects to manufacturing facilities. This new future wireless innovation test-bed will also offer manufacturers the chance to build smarter factories and truly take advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the larger deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The future wireless innovation test-bed will advance manufacturing operations by enabling businesses to be faster and to make them more responsive to customer needs. Manufacturers will benefit from unprecedented speed and coverage, which will provide an avenue for never-before-imagined capabilities across the manufacturing space. Adding this new future wireless test-bed offering into the mix of options for the sector can enable manufacturers to enhance the scale and volume of data collection, improve process flexibility by eliminating wires and improve the ability to process data in near real-time.
Confirm is dedicated to fundamentally transforming the industry into a smart manufacturing ecosystem by integrating intelligence within products, machines, production systems and supply chains. As such, the Centre is focused on delivering research excellence to inform the future of manufacturing, while underpinning industry through research, talent and collaboration.
This facility will be the centrepiece of Confirm’s research ecosystem and through a dedicated Community of Practice area – will link our researchers, industry partners and the general public together to raise the profile of manufacturing in Ireland and Internationally.
Director of Confirm Professor Conor Mc Carthy said:
“Confirm Centre is delighted to launch the Smart Manufacturing Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed. Wireless communication between products, machines, production systems and supply chains form a major part of our digital thread strategy, designed to achieve mass customisation and enable re-configurability in manufacturing plants and associated digital supply chains”.
Confirm Funded Investigator Dr Eoin O’Connell said:
“It is now clear that the manufacturing sector will ultimately be driven by the capacity and scalability of high-speed networks. The Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed at Confirm will enable cutting edge research to deliver the breakthroughs needed for the factory of the future”.
CEO of Netmore Ove Anebygd said:
"We are very pleased that Confirm chooses Netmore as a supplier of 5G infrastructure for its operations in Smart Manufacturing. The fact that Netmore's 5G technology is selected for the Innovation Test-Bed at the University of Limerick is proof that our services and our technology are suitable in the best possible way for environments that place high demands on capacity, reliability and security. We look forward to a long and successful collaboration with Confirm Smart Manufacturing ".