Vodafone signs deal with Ford for private 5G network

Ford Motor has signed a deal with Vodafone Group to install a private 5G network at the car maker’s electric-vehicle (EV) battery facility in UK’s Essex.
Vodafone 5G ItalyThe project is part of a 65-million-pound ($80.87 million) investment in 5G backed by the UK government, according to Ford and Vodafone, and would be among the first of its kind in Britain.

The private 5G network at Ford’s facility will replace older Wi-Fi networks and help speed up the production of EV components, , the companies said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“For a single EV product, this could generate more than a half a million pieces of data every minute”, the statement said, adding that the upgrade will provide faster and more accurate manufacturing control and analysis.

Earlier this week, Toyota Production Engineering selected Finland’s Nokia to install an industrial-grade 5G private wireless network at its manufacturing design center in Fukuoka, Japan.

The project, which is set to be complete in Autumn this year, promises to reduce delays in manufacturing, increase bandwidth across the campus, improve security and reliability, and increase productivity, says Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business.

5G mobile private networks (MPN) allows machines and computing power to co-ordinate in real time, improving precision, efficiency and safety.

The blue-chip car manufacturer will primarily focus on using the connectivity for its welding machines in the manufacture of electric vehicles. According to Ford, batteries and electric motors within an electric vehicle require around 1,000 welds.

Chris White, Ford’s 5G Electric Manufacturing project lead, said: “Connecting today’s shop floor requires significant time and investment. Present technology can be the limiting factor in re-configuring and deploying next-generation manufacturing systems.”