UK switches on first 5G factory trials

The UK’s first ever live trial of 5G-enabled factory technology is underway in Worcestershire, giving manufacturers an opportunity to see how new innovations can make their facilities and production lines more efficient.

The government-funded Worcestershire 5G testbed is focused solely on industrial use cases for 5G, which will offer greater capacity, lower latency and better reliability.

These characteristics mean it is feasible to connect mission critical systems to the network and adopt Industry 4.0 innovations.

Worcestershire 5G

“Going live with the UK’s first 5G factory trials marks a monumental step in delivering the vision of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed to bring a productivity increase to the manufacturing sector and the UK economy,” declared Mark Stansfeld, Chair of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed & Trials.

“We are proud of the collaboration between all consortium members in making this happen and will be working closely to deliver the expected results from the live 5G trials.”

Among the participants are engineering firm Worcester Bosch, which will see how IoT sensors and data analytics can boost output and enable predictive maintenance, and defence specialist QinetiQ, which will focus on security. Yamazaki Mazak will use 5G to boost productivity through remote troubleshooting.

“We are delighted to have switched 5G on in our factory and look forward to measuring the productivity gains that will follow,” added Carl Arntzen, Worcester Bosch CEO. “It’s important to our business to have the real time element 5G brings so that we can react in real time in the factory environment to mitigate any losses in output and protect and grow our business bottom line.”

The Worcester 5G consortium includes the likes of Huawei, BT and O2, and is one of several government-backed initiatives. Others are looking at potential 5G applications for tourism, agriculture and connected cars.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.