Aerospace manufacturer in”world first” global IoT wi-fi trials

Mettis Aerospace, a designer and manufacturer of components of the aerospace and defence industry, is testing next generation wi-fi at its 27-acre Midlands facility.

The Redditch-based company is helping the Wireless Broadband Alliance, which invests in the development of next generation wireless services, with the “world’s first” Wi-Fi 6 Industrial Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) trial.

Mettis Aerospace will use the technology in applications such as augmented reality and real-time equipment monitoring as it looks to digitise its production line.

Mettis is a key supplier for organizations like Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce.

The company said that due to its large site and industrial radio interference, connectivity had been a challenge. It said that the Wi-Fi 6 initiative would enable it to provision industrial-level connectivity.

The West Midlands region, under the leadership of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), was selected to be the UK’s 5G Testbed for manufacturing and security by Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

This trial will demonstrate the role that Wi-Fi 6 has to play in the broader 5G ecosystem, according to the company and WBA.

Tiago Rodrigues, general manager, WBA, said: “Wi-Fi 6 is a critical component for the future of connectivity for enterprises, operators and consumers.

“The work of Mettis Aerospace, the WBA and its members will clearly illustrate the role that Wi-Fi 6 has to play. We’re delighted to be working with Mettis Aerospace and are grateful to the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership for inviting us to collaborate with them to demonstrate the capabilities and promote the convergence of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 in heterogenous networks.

“This first trial will serve as an example to industrial manufacturers around the world who are embracing the move to ‘industry 4.0’ about the capabilities to deliver transformation with Wi-Fi 6.”
Dave Green, head of IT, Mettis Aerospace, said: “We’re delighted to be the first aerospace company to trial Wi-Fi 6. By working with the WBA, we’re able to gain access to dozens of leading vendors and operators in the Wi-Fi arena.

“Industrial manufacturers work in incredibly complex environments, which can make cellular technologies challenging to deploy and operate effectively. We believe that Wi-Fi 6 has a significant role to play within the 5G ecosystem, enabling a range of, cost-effective, industrial applications.”

Mark Stansfeld, chair of the Worcestershire LEP, added: “We see 5G and Wi-Fi 6 as complementary technologies that will revolutionise industry on a regional, national and global scale.

“We recently announced the UK’s first live 5G factory trials in Worcestershire, in a landmark step towards the creation of smart factories, and it’s fantastic to also see the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 Industrial IoT trial go live in the county.

“This is an important step in the evolution of next generation technologies that will completely transform UK industry and an important step in establishing Worcestershire as an exemplar for manufacturing best practice for the UK and wider afield.”
The trial is being managed by the WBA and Mettis Aerospace, and supported by WBA members including Accuris, British Telecom, Boingo, Broadcom, BSG Wireless, CableLabs, Cisco, HPE Aruba and Intel. It is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2019.