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Automotive flexible production: the road to 5G transformation in the manufacturing industry

       The high-quality development of the manufacturing industry is an important part of the high-quality economic development. It is related to key strategies such as building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and building a modern socialist country in an all-round way. It fundamentally determines my country's future comprehensive strength and international status. With the characteristics of "large bandwidth, low latency, and wide connection", 5G is changing the traditional industrial manufacturing field.

      With the acceleration of 5G commercial use, industrial interconnection is becoming a hot spot for 5G applications. The integration of 5G and the Industrial Internet will accelerate the construction of a digital China and a smart society, accelerate the process of China's new industrialization, inject new momentum into the development of the national economy, and create new development opportunities for the global economy under the haze of the new crown pneumonia epidemic.

   Following the "5G﹢Industrial Internet" media team, they conducted field research on typical application cases of some enterprises, and discovered some typical application scenarios. These applications have effectively solved some of the pain points and difficult problems of enterprises.

  The automobile industry occupies an important position in the manufacturing industry. It has the characteristics of a long industrial chain, wide coverage, and many related industries. It has a very obvious driving effect on the national economy. In addition, the automobile industry is also the "main force" in my country's advanced manufacturing field and the frontier "front" for the transformation of advanced scientific and technological achievements. On October 28, at the Lantu Automobile Manufacturing Plant located in the southwest of Wuhan City, we visited the application situation of "5G﹢Industrial Internet" in the automobile industry.

   On the last production line of the factory, it can be seen that skilled workers are completing the last inspection process. A shiny domestic SUV pure electric car is about to roll off the production line and will be delivered to the owner in the next few days. It is understood that through the transformation of 5G and industrial Internet technology, the automobile manufacturer has realized flexible production of thousands of people. It only takes a few days for the factory to receive a customer’s order to when the new car is off the assembly line. At the same time, it can guarantee the quality of the car, the individual needs of the customer, and reduce the production cost of the company.

   The two-day construction period is now less than half a day

       “In the past, we used cables to connect machines, and it took about one to two days for a wiring cycle. After the 5G transformation, it takes less than half a day on average to complete it, saving hundreds of working days in a year.” The person in charge of the information system of the car manufacturer said.

   This factory was officially put into operation in June of this year. It might have taken 13 months to build a production line, but in the end it took only 7 months. The staff said that they used the characteristics of 5G wide connection and digital twin technology to simulate every aspect of the factory in the computer before the factory was built. The actual construction of the factory is relatively simple.

   "Time is money, and efficiency is life." This slogan, born in the early stage of reform and opening up, reflects the striving for efficiency of market economy "trends". Over the past 40 years, this kind of hard work has been inherited and developed very well in this group of "Autobots".

   "The time saved can produce more vehicles, so our salary can increase with the increase in production." Said a skilled worker on the production line. Indeed, in the face of fierce market competition, only by continuously outputting high-quality products can companies have their own living space. And more efficient production means that it provides a sufficient guarantee for the competitiveness of enterprises.

   In order to further implement the industrial Internet innovation development strategy and promote the integrated development of industrialization and informatization on a wider, deeper and higher level, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "Industrial Internet Innovation Development Action Plan (2021-2023)" at the end of last year. In July of this year, ten ministries and commissions including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "5G Application "Sailing" Action Plan (20212023)", which raised the integration and development of 5G and the Industrial Internet to a strategic height.

  The auto industry has benefited from the strong support of the above policies. During the field visit, it was learned that the manufacturing plant has built a “Unicom 5G Virtual Private Network ﹢Huawei All-optical F5G” high-quality, high-reliability, and high-security hybrid 5G network. The advantages of environmental protection, low carbon, large bandwidth and high availability.

   Disruptive changes stem from 5G transformation

   "Don't look at the time saved only these two days, the impact on the company is almost disruptive." The person in charge of the company said. In the past, human intervention was indispensable in every process of producing a car from stamping, welding and painting. However, the poor production environment in these workshops is likely to cause great harm to the health of employees. Even after the intelligent transformation, because the high corrosiveness is likely to cause damage to the cables, they still have to be inspected regularly by the staff. After 5G technological transformation, these procedures are all omitted. The wired connection in the past has become a wireless optical network, and the inspection step is also omitted, which not only greatly improves the working environment of employees, but also improves production efficiency.

       "Young people have high demands on the working environment. Traditional types of jobs are no longer attractive to young people, and it is difficult to recruit skilled talents with high salaries. This makes us have to upgrade the original production methods." The person in charge of the company said, "You can see that we can't see a drop of oil in our entire workshop. Our tooling is also white. What does it look like when you come to get off work and what you leave? At the same time, the work intensity is greatly reduced. This is all thanks to the '5G﹢Industrial Internet' project. Implementation."

        In the factory workshop, you can see that the working methods of workers have undergone tremendous changes. Robotic arms have replaced manual heavy manual labor, and AR intelligent inspections have replaced manual data, and even screwing screws is a basic and indispensable link. It has also become industrialized. The staff said that by independently developing a torque management system, they can control whether the torque of each screw of each car is qualified. The tightening data is collected and stored in real time, with a traceability period of 10 years, which can achieve "0" of poor tightening into the market.

   Flexible production with thousands of people

   In the new car production area, you can notice that there are differences in the color and interior of each new car. The staff said that this is because the factory implements order-to-order production, and each car is customized according to the needs of customers. The same production line can support the mixed production of SUVs, MPVs, cars and other models, truly realizing flexible production with thousands of people.

       The technology behind this is precisely the wide-connection feature of 5G. On the basis of “public cloud﹢group cloud﹢private cloud”, it is equipped with global leading technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data, edge computing, and artificial intelligence to build the company’s “strongest brain". It covers the entire process of R&D, manufacturing, sales, and operation. While producing physical cars, it also builds the same digital cars in the digital world, realizing the interconnection and real-time monitoring of users, cars, equipment, and environmental data.

   And this was unimaginable before. The most prominent problem facing the intelligent transformation of factories is the processing of large amounts of production data. With the exponential increase in data volume, traditional hardware devices can no longer meet the needs of data transmission, storage, and calculation. The large bandwidth and low latency of 5G play an irreplaceable role here.

   Just as the highway has a major impact on my country's national economy, 5G is the infrastructure for the digitalization of factories. The role of 5G is to connect each data island, collect data scattered in various places, and provide managers with first-hand data in real time and efficiently, so that they can produce car products that are required by the market, satisfying customers, and are safe and stable.

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