Volkswagen Group brand Skoda has launched a private 5G mobile network in cooperation with Vodafone at its site in Mladá Boleslav.
Skoda argues that ultra-fast and reliable data transmission technology opens up new production possibilities. The pilot project aims to extensively test and further develop the technology under real-world conditions.
Christian Schenk, Skoda Board Member for Finance and IT, says: “The private 5G network is an important step for Skoda on its journey towards a smart factory. The technology offers enormous potential for future innovations, for example in predictive maintenance and optical inspections in body construction. As part of the recently launched pilot project, we are testing 5G in daily operations, and we will also evaluate future uses of this technology to make us even more efficient and flexible.
Michael Oeljeklaus, Member of the Skoda Management Board for Production and Logistics, adds: “The 5G standard also opens up new possibilities for autonomous transport in logistics, augmented reality in production and many other applications. An example is the FATA MORGANA application which allows remote support between maintenance and technical experts on two different continents by creating a digital twin in real time and communicating using 3D objects in augmented reality. This technology takes advantage of the much faster data flow and lower latency of 5G connectivity. Microsoft HoloLens 2 glasses also improve the effectiveness of the scanned area’s digital twin.
The 5G research network allows data to be transmitted locally in complete security and in real time. The solution uses 5G Standalone (SA) technology, which is one of the first commercial SA 5G deployments in the Czech Republic. Skoda’s network uses a private frequency spectrum unique to the Skoda Smart Factory; it enables reliable, wireless data transmission and guarantees sufficient bandwidth even under heavy use. Thanks to 5G, latency, which is the time it takes to transmit data to sensors, machines, vehicles or other devices, can drop to milliseconds. According to Skoda, this makes 5G technology much faster than WLAN or other wireless communication technologies.
The 5G mobile private network makes new technologies possible within the framework of the Smart Factory concept, for example in the areas of Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence and shared data. The next step will be to upload data on finished vehicles via 5G. Another field of application is the intelligent networking of robots and wireless assembly tools.
Skoda has integrated the private 5G network into existing data networks to provide the necessary data security and to gain experience in deploying this technology. The technology will soon be extended to all areas of production and logistics.
In the future, it will be used for autonomous vehicle transport and in predictive maintenance, and it will also be tested in combination with various devices at the Skoda FabLab.