"The 5G Factory of the Future programme will drive forward holistic connectivity and unlock the potential of industrial digitalisation. It will define a new paradigm for how future factories will operate - enabling connectivity and business agility both across manufacturing operations and beyond, into the supply chain."

This ground-breaking project is unlocking the potential of 5G technologies in manufacturing to accelerate industrial digitalisation and support UK manufacturers on their journey to a smart, productive and sustainable future.

The performance gap between businesses that successfully use technology every day, and those that haven’t yet adopted digital technologies continues to grow. To ensure UK companies remain productive and globally competitive, and are able to meet future challenges, the transformative capabilities of Industry 4.0 digital technologies must be embraced, adopted and integrated into manufacturing.

The next-generation connectivity harnessed in 5G technology - offering faster speeds, lower latency and larger bandwidth - has the power to unlock the true potential of industrial digitalisation and make smart factories the norm, and not the anomaly.

The 5G Factory of the Future open-access industrial 5G testbed will accelerate the pace of change and help industry to better understand the place and benefits of 5G, and encourage adoption of the next-generation technology within manufacturing.

It is this step-change in the capability of connectivity that will enable UK manufacturers to digitalise operations to become smarter, more sustainable and resilient, and empower them to deliver on government ambitions to build back better and greener.

Our vision is to dramatically improve manufacturer performance with significant reductions in defects and waste through real time monitoring; enhanced machine utilisation and energy saving through digital twin track and trace; and reductions in travel and maintenance times brought about by shared hybrid reality spaces.

We want to create a blueprint for smart factory connectivity and unlock the potential benefits of industrial digitalisation by testing the most challenging and ground-breaking areas of 5G for manufacturing: increasing bandwidth, decreasing latency, ensuring security across a robust network and augmenting supply chain transparency, ensuring future industrial sustainability.

Using key digital technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT); Mobile Edge Computing (MEC); visual inspection; artificial intelligence (AI); machine learning (ML); virtual reality (VR); augmented reality (AR) and digital twins, 5G Factory of the Future will provide potential for new ways of working that help UK manufacturing to improve efficiency, productivity, safety, and reduce CO2 emissions and other waste.

The goal is to accelerate development and testing of smart solutions and services to encourage companies of all sizes to de-risk innovation by allowing them to test and further develop their concepts using the testbed as a sandbox environment.

5G Factory of the Future will encourage collaborative research and innovation projects.

The fully-operational 5G manufacturing testbed, validated on a number of use-cases, will promote joint projects and new product development, entrepreneurial ventures, a discussion forum, and a business support hub. The vision is to create an environment for supporting big engineering and manufacturing challenges, deployment of 5G hardware and development of new products and services.

5G Factory of the Future will encourage manufacturers to develop new products and services.

Information and advice on the benefits of 5G, implementation routes and how to address barriers to adoption will be published for the manufacturing community. The open-access testbed will allow companies, particularly SMEs, to stay ahead of the competition by undertaking small-scale trials at relatively low cost, something they cannot do independently. Housing the open-access testbed at AMRC North West will enable organisations to see the application of 5G in an industrial setting and understand its value prior to making an investment.

5G Factory of the Future will encourage long term joint ventures with industrial partners and collaborators.

The testbed will enhance understanding of the potential applications and limitations of 5G for the UK manufacturing base, which is critical for sustaining and driving future development across a number of sectors and for enabling manufacturing supply chains to develop and adopt 5G capabilities.

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