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Companies launch 5G Innovation Zone at Samsung Austin Semiconductor to demonstrate 5G’s Impact on the Smart Factory; Use Cases Include Robotics, Industrial IoT and Mixed Reality

It’s not just the seasons that are changing today. Today marks the beginning of a new way to think about the future of manufacturing.

AT&T Business, Samsung Austin Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics America are unveiling the first manufacturing-focused 5G Innovation Zone in America. Announced last year, today marks the unveiling of 5G use cases we’re researching in the Innovation Zone, with applications designed to improve efficiency, safety, security and operational performance within the manufacturing industry.

Let’s Talk Tech

The 5G Innovation Zone is located in Samsung Austin Semiconductor, one of the most advanced semiconductor fabrication facilities in the world. The new research space is designed for AT&T and Samsung to explore ideas and technology over 5G networks for improving manufacturing environments and creating smarter factories.

As would be expected in a smart factory, the Innovation Zone is designed to leverage a combination of multiple connectivity technologies, including 5G, LTE, and Wi-Fi. We anticipate the technologies will evolve as additional 5G devices become available.  

The key benefits of 5G include capacity, throughput and latency improvements at levels that were previously only available via wired technology. Like most manufacturing facilities, Samsung Austin Semiconductor collects data from thousands of machines. Adding 5G into the mix can enable manufacturers to enhance the scale and volume of data collection, improve process flexibility by eliminating wires and improve the ability to process data in near real time. Increased bandwidth and reduced latency would be a gamechanger in improving efficiency and performance on the production floor and predicting issues before they happen.  Safety also gets a boost as 5G’s lower latency could enable critical data to get to emergency respondents without lag or delay.

“The 5G Innovation Zone showcases the power of 5G technology to unlock greater efficiencies and higher performance in the manufacturing industry,” said Mark Louison, senior vice president and general manager, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America.  “These use cases will help us determine how 5G can bring high impact innovations to manufacturing and help pave the way for the smart factories of the future.”

Bringing 5G to Life

Planning and executing the Innovation Zone was a collaborative effort between AT&T and Samsung engineers and technicians. For inspiration, we looked at challenges manufacturing companies face that can benefit from 5G technology. We designed test use cases that focus on real world issues and are interactive, providing visitors a firsthand experience of how 5G connectivity impacts technologies like industrial IoT, robotics and mixed reality in manufacturing.

Here are some of the applications we’re testing:

  • Health and Environmental Sensors

Demonstrating how 5G and sensors could help first responders better locate employees and speed up response time in an emergency situation. Keeping employees safe at work is a top priority for manufacturing companies. In an emergency situation, 5G’s capacity and reliability can be used to communicate an injured person’s vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature directly to first responders during the critical first hour, which can result in faster, more efficient care. 

  • Automated Material Handling, Industrial IoT and Robotics

Demonstrating how 5G, 4K live video and IoT sensor data better supports the factory automation process. Advanced manufacturing facilities use automated processes and robotic equipment throughout their production process. 5G can enable large-scale, near real-time monitoring and proactive maintenance of factory automation equipment, helping to improve production. An Automated Material Handling System equipped with IoT sensors and 4K wireless cameras will demonstrate remote monitoring of factory automation equipment. With 5G, this type of automation could be equipped with a full suite of devices to collect important data on acceleration, position, temperature, humidity, and gas flow rates.

  • Mixed Reality for Training

Demonstrating how 5G and mixed reality can be used to train employees. 5G has the potential to educate. Mixed reality technology --- using tools such as wireless Augmented Reality (AR) glasses along with low latency content delivery from the edge – can provide an untethered method to virtually train hundreds of employees, providing immersive and immediate access to equipment diagnostics, as well as directions for repairs.

“Today’s opening of the 5G Innovation Zone gives a peek into the future of manufacturing,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “5G from AT&T – along with other cutting-edge technologies – will improve quality, efficiency and worker safety on the factory floor.”

Look out for future announcements about our 5G launches in other industries and verticals. Learn more about our 5G strategy for business.