Aerospace company launches 5G trials to transform manufacturing productivity

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Birmingham-based AE Aerospace is to be the first UK SME to deploy a 5G private network working with WM5G, W5G and BT on three new 5G use cases set to transform manufacturing productivity.

AE Aerospace operates a high precision engineering facility and produces parts for high-profile customers, including Rolls Royce, Raytheon UK and Moog.

It has an ambitious growth strategy and believes that all three 5G-enabled trials delivered through the project will improve productivity and provide existing clients with a better quality of service, as well as creating new business models and new revenue opportunities.

In trialling 5G, powered by BT’s EE mobile network, the aerospace manufacturer hopes to attain significant benefits, including the ability to maximise machine time, provide more accurate assurance that parts have been machined to specification with increased speed and efficiency, as well as being able to eliminate the need to re-work or replace damaged components impaired in transit.

The first 5G use case will see wireless 5G and a range of sensors installed across the factory floor to enable wireless connectivity between machines, allowing high volume data capture.

Another trial will allow AE Aerospace to provide 100% assurance that its parts have been machined and measured to specification. Production units have many surfaces, holes and screw threads that must be measured manually with gauges. By tagging all the gauges, their location can be tracked and identified in real time over 5G, AE Aerospace will increase its speed and accuracy of measurement as a result.

Finally, AE Aerospace and WM5G will experiment with 5G to improve product quality assurance by eliminating the need to re-work or replace damaged components. By using a private 5G network, real-time ultra-high definition image comparison can take place to ensure product quality assurance prior to AE Aerospace shipping out products to customers.

Peter Bruch, managing director at AE Aerospace, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by WM5G, W5G & BT to develop the 5G Technology which will fast forward our Glass Factory, Servitized programme; by improving our productivity & flexibility, reducing costs and lead time for our customers. Post Covid and BREXIT, we believe that this support will be a driving force, enabling the UK Manufacturing sector to compete on the world stage.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Manufacturing is the bedrock of the West Midlands economy and the ability to harness the power of 5G and other new technologies will help our manufacturers to not only remain competitive in a fierce global marketplace but put themselves at the cutting edge.

“We face a massive challenge to get our economy back on track once this pandemic is finally over and we must capitalise on new technology to supercharge that recovery. By winning the Government competition to become the UK’s first large-scale 5G testbed, our region and it’s businesses are in a unique position to test and prove the opportunity for 5G to transform manufacturing productivity.”