Queen’s digital testbed explores 5G smart manufacturing

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Queen’s University, Belfast will collaborate with BT and Cisco on a new £500,000 digital testbed that aims to create a “step-change” in smart manufacturing.

The project is part of a co-investment to create a 5G enabled digital factory, it aims to provide an opportunity for local industry to collaborate and explore the benefits of 5G connectivity within future manufacturing operations.

According to Queen’s, these new technologies will lead companies to pursue increased digitalisation of factories, adopting technologies including automation and robotics. The university added this will enable businesses to become more efficient, productive and less wasteful and to compete on the global stage.

The facility, based at Queen’s Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) will also provide a resource for researchers at Queen’s to translate their research to industry in the areas of digital twins, cyber security, digitised manufacturing, sensors and other Industry 4.0 activities.

Head of the NITC, Colm Higgins, said: “As the manufacturing sector moves towards digital technologies and supporting Industry 4.0, digital testing is vital in helping to improve performance and quality of production. 5G technology offers higher speeds, greater capacity and shorter response times to the digital environment.

“This £500k investment by BT, Cisco and Queen’s is an important collaboration of academia and business and will help us to deliver our mission of driving innovation and creating solutions from R&D. This will in turn help to grow market opportunities and create a step change in smart manufacturing.”

The project will build on existing research in smart factory technology, which has been taking place through the University’s intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems research programme, which is supported by Invest Northern Ireland’s Research & Development programme.

Shane Heraty, managing director, Ireland and Scotland, Cisco, added: “The smart manufacturing test centre at NITC will help organisations to trial leading-edge technology and processes that have the potential to position them at the forefront of Industry 4.0 in Northern Ireland.

“Industry 4.0 provides opportunity to modernise and leverage the benefits of digitisation, optimising production and utilising real time data to make smarter and faster decisions.”

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