AT&T and Samsung announce experimental new 5G “connected factory”

Procurement professionals interested in how forthcoming 5G networks may impact their work have a new…...

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Procurement professionals interested in how forthcoming 5G networks may impact their work have a new initiative to watch. AT&T and Samsung have announced a new joint project – a 5G “Innovation Zone” – to create a futuristic “smart factory”. With this project, they will test how the powerful new networks will affect manufacturing.

The site will be based in Austin, Texas within Samsung’s advanced semiconductor fabrication plant, Samsung Austin Semiconductor. The aim is to test a range of possible use cases, including Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors for equipment maintenance, location services and the deployment of 4K video as a plant security and detection response sensor.

The telecoms industry has been lauding the capability of 5G networks to significantly accelerate speed and data use for consumers but its potential goes well beyond these areas. Applications such as smart grids, connected healthcare and connected vehicles are already being tested (Nokia and Verizon completed a successful connected vehicle trial over the summer).

Now Samsung with AT&T have seized on growing interest in how the technology could create new connected environments in factories that would enable a fully automated, autonomous operation. The Innovation Zone, for instance, will explore how 5G transmitters could be harnessed to monitor ambient conditions such as temperature and vibration. The tech could also facilitate smart connected robots capable of replacing manual labour.

The new project will also be exploring how the technology can be used in training in the form of virtual reality equipment, according to Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s VP of Manufacturing and Systems Technology, Jon Taylor.

Announcing the initiative, AT&T Business’s Chief Marketing Officer Mo Katibeh said, “This is a first. We’ll be testing the real-world impact 5G will have on the manufacturing industry.”

The project will, he added, provide “a future blueprint for people and businesses across all industries.”

Procurement specialists will be watching to see what implications the new networks have for core functions, from the impact of factory automation on supply relationship management to cost reduction and category management.

Steve Trainor

Steve has over 28 years of success as CPO, MD and Procurement BPO leader in a range of industries. Steve is COO at Odesma, responsible for Odesma’s delivery capability & infrastructure.

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