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ABB and Ericsson showcase 5G networks for industrial robots

ABB and Ericsson, together with Swisscom, demonstrated for the first time how “easily and effectively” robots can be controlled over wide distances utilizing the real-time communication capabilities of 5G.

ABB showcased the potential of no-latency communication enabled by 5G to world leaders during the recent World Economic Forum, in Davos.

At the Congress Center in Davos, Switzerland, an ABB YuMi collaborative robot was seen carving a message in a sandbox that was replicated at the same time by a second YuMi robot located 1.5 km away.

The simultaneous action was enabled through Swisscom’s 5G network equipped with Ericsson technology in real-time and viewed on video screens at both locations.

Based on a multi-year technical collaboration, ABB and Ericsson have developed the fundamental technologies needed to connect machines via a 5G mobile network.

Peter Voser, ABB CEO and chairman, says: “ABB will continue to drive the digital transformation of industries by investing in developing innovative solutions and products.

“Our partnership with Ericsson and Swisscom helps us to seize the full potential of 5G for industrial manufacturing.”

Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s robotics and discrete automation business, says: “5G wireless technologies make it easier to connect robots to the cloud and factory automation systems, enabling faster access to more data and better decision-making based on insights which will help improve efficiency and reliability through the entire production cycle.

“As we replace traditional wire set-ups with 5G mobile networks, we can significantly increase flexibility in manufacturing.”

Börje Ekholm, president and CEO, Ericsson, says: ”5G technology partnerships across business, government and society are key to developing the digital economy.

“By embracing and enabling such partnerships, new digital opportunities can be realized to benefit the global economy, national economies, and businesses of all sizes.”

Urs Schaeppi, CEO Swisscom, says: “The joint demo uses our live 5G network in Davos to give a glimpse of the capabilities and various possibilities of 5G for manufacturing and robotics. The time is now to step into 5G.”

With this technology, the companies say they can “pave the way for the highest flexibility for machines on the factory floor”. Utilizing 5G networks, the deployment and operations of large fleets of autonomous machines and robots will become a reality.

A significant benefit from 5G in industrial environments is that instead of a single control / single purpose operating approach, multi-machines can be controlled by one central resource, reducing the cost of managing and maintaining OT as well as IT systems, on a global basis.

ABB is continuously working towards autonomous industries across customer segments. For example, as a world’s first, ABB enabled a ferry to be remote-controlled across the Helsinki harbor at the end of 2018.

5G is an enabling technology that will help drive digital transformation of industries, increasing productivity, efficiency and quality in manufacturing worldwide.

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