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5G in the industry of the future

The plant’s connectivity allows us to take an in-depth look at Gestamp’s intelligent manufacturing model


The world is changing by leaps and bounds, and so too is the automotive industry. Consumers are asking for increasingly personalised car models and vehicle manufacturers need to adapt to a constantly changing reality. Faced with this challenge, automotive suppliers need to have the necessary flexibility to adapt to this dynamism and demand.

In order to meet these demands from society, Gestamp is committed to innovation and technology as essential tools for improving its industrial processes and continuing to add value for its customers. Only in this way is it possible to remain competitive at a pivotal moment for the industry such as the one we are seeing today. 
Within this scenario, 5G plays a major role as an enabling technology that allows handling of the huge amounts of data that a factory generates in its daily operation. Only in this way is it possible to work with multiple scenarios that significantly contribute to decision-making.

For this reason, the Gestamp Bizkaia plant is working on a pilot project for a factory connected with 5G technology, which is a first in the Basque Country. This industrial pilot is part of the ‘5G Euskadi’ project, which seeks to encourage innovation and industrial transformation of some of the main companies and technology centres in the Basque Country. To this end, 13 public and private entities have joined forces in a consortium, with the aim of establishing collaboration agreements that allow the development and implementation of this technology in the Basque business fabric.

The objective of this use case is to monitor and control production processes in order to predict and assess in advance any possible risks in industrial decision-making. Accordingly, the digitalisation of the Gestamp Bizkaia production plant in Abadiño is being carried out through a digital twin. This industrial pilot will involve the connection of numerous means of production, as well as the management of logistics, another fundamental part of the circumstances at the plant.

The plant’s connectivity allows us to take an in-depth look at Gestamp’s intelligent manufacturing model and with it, it is possible to work in multiple scenarios and models almost simultaneously with the production and logistics management of the factory that improve and speed up decision-making.

A factory with a virtual twin
To carry out this deployment successfully it is necessary to ensure communication between the plant, its circumstances and the digital twin. Only in this way is it possible to simulate different scenarios that help improve the management of possible unforeseen events and make the plant as efficient as possible. For this reason, a 5G deployment has been chosen through Orange and Euskaltel. This technology, thanks to its low latency coupled with the computational capacity of the MEC (Multiaccess Edge Computing) provided by Euskaltel, makes it possible to ensure this objective.

In order to carry out this communication, the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) through the Department of Communications Engineering, which is also part of the project consortium, has designed the necessary architecture for the deployment of 5G technology within the factory, thanks to its knowledge of the industrial applications of this technology.

In this regard, the team from the Bilbao Engineering School has participated in defining the 5G architecture to be deployed and in connecting to the MEC (Multiaccess Edge Computing, as an alternative to the traditional data processing centre), located at the edge of the operator’s network and that will allow it to improve aspects such as latency, jitter delay, its variation, in the digital twin. Likewise, and as part of that architecture, a series of micro cells will be deployed that will provide 5G coverage within the plant.

With the launch of this project, Gestamp is continuing to move forward with its flexible and intelligent factory model, two of the attributes of the company’s Smart Factory concept. Recently, Gestamp announced the start of a similar project at one of its factories in Barcelona, which is now being joined by the Abadiño plant.

Sergio García, head of Industry 4.0 and Gestamp Virtual Factory, assured that “this technology poses scenarios and models almost simultaneously with the production and logistics management of the factory, which improve and streamline decision-making.”

“All of this allows us to search for new processes that allow more flexible manufacturing that is fully adapted to our customers, which has driven us for some years now to work on an intelligent and connected factory model. This new connectivity project in our factory in Abadiño, which now joins the one in Barcelona, will provide us with a broader vision of the advantages that 5G technology can bring to our business and will also allow us to compare its application in two factories with notable differences between them,” said García.

‘5G Euskadi’ Project
The ‘5G Euskadi’ project is being subsidised by Red.es and is co-financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in charge of the Multi-Regional Operational Programme of Spain (POPE from its initials in Spanish).

A consortium of 13 partners is participating in ‘5G Euskadi’: Euskaltel, R, Orange, MASMOVIL Group, ZTE Spain, ZTE Managed Services, Gestamp, Ikusi (Velatia Group), CAF, dBus (Donostia City Council), Datik (Irizar Group), CEIT, Vicomtech. These companies have also established collaboration agreements with Iberdrola, Basque Security Center (Basque Government), Tecnalia and the University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea. In addition, this project has the support of the Basque public administration: Basque Government (Department of Economic Development and Infrastructures), Donostia-San Sebastián City Council, Bizkaia County Council, Gipuzkoa County Council, Araba County Council, Zamudio City Council and Abadiño City Council. It should also be noted that the pilot project has been designed and managed by Red Colmena (Promotora de Redes Compartidas, SA).

The consortium has launched a total of 9 pilot projects in the Basque Country in which 5G technology is being applied, including the pilot for industrial use at the Gestamp factory in Abadiño.