Ford and Vodafone Harness Private 5G Networks to Continually Optimise Vehicle Manufacturing

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The Ford Motor Company is using a mobile private network to enable an electric vehicle plant in the UK to enhance production quality in real-time. A combination of 4G and 5G connectivity provided by Vodafone UK enables Ford to analyse and control the new laser welding machines used to manufacture batteries and electric motors for vehicles.

Although automotive plants are highly standardised with repetitive processes for assembling parts to tight tolerances, Ford still sees variations that can impact the efficiency of the plant and the quality of finished products. These can be as subtle as changes in temperature, or even sunlight affecting the cameras used to detect issues on the production line. Low latency connectivity is required to enable the factory to react quickly: if conditions change the factory needs to be able to change the settings on the machines within milliseconds to continuously optimise production quality.

The new private mobile network is enabling Ford to capture a continuous flow of data from sensors installed throughout its electric vehicle factory in Essex. As a result, it can monitor the end-to-end production process and make rapid adjustments automatically in response to changes in the environment, input materials and other factors. These quick configuration changes are designed to maximise the quality of the finished products.

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