TOKYO -- NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today that it has agreed with OMRON Corporation and Nokia Solutions and Networks Oy to collaborate in trials of 5G mobile communication technology inside factories, with the aim of significantly enhancing future manufacturing productivity.
There is increasing demand for wireless communications inside manufacturing plants driven by the need for stable connectivity between IoT devices, including those embedded in machine controls. As machine background noise and the movement of people in manufacturing sites have the potential to interfere with wireless communications, thorough verification of the reliability and stability of any 5G technology deployed in such environments is required.
During the trials, DOCOMO, OMRON and Nokia aim to prove the feasibility of using 5G connectivity to create layout-free production lines using Autonomous Mobile Robots--robots that are able to act autonomously in complex and changing environments--as well as the feasibility of human-machine collaboration inside manufacturing plants.
As the demand for parts diversifies and production cycles become shorter, production lines need to be rapidly reconfigured whenever there are changes to components. By using Autonomous Mobile Robots to create production lines with flexible layouts, it is expected manufacturers will be able to quickly and flexibly build these and change their layout in line with fluctuations in demand.
The three companies aim to enhance productivity within plants by having AMRs automatically convey components to the exact spot they are required on the basis of communication with production line equipment. In addition, production line technicians will be monitored with dedicated cameras, with the system giving feedback on their performance based on an analysis of their movements transmitted to servers using 5G communication. This will help improve their training by detecting and analyzing the differences of motion between more skilled and less skilled personnel.
Going forward, DOCOMO will continue to develop its network communication technology, demand for which is growing across a range of industries, including the manufacturing sector, aiming to support its partners by building optimized 5G network environments.