Welcome to a new era of connectivity, where faster feeds and speeds will bring new opportunities in manufacturing. Worldwide 5G network infrastructure revenue is on pace to grow 39% to total $19.1 billion in 2021, up from $13.7 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast by Gartner. The result will be more efficient manufacturing processes.

Consider the example of Ford Motor Co., which is equipping its Dearborn Rouge site with secure, next-generation 5G cellular connectivity, which is based on AT&T 5G with its MEC (multi-access edge) computing technology.

Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is in the historic Rouge complex, which supports Ford’s vision of sustainable production as a zero waste-to-landfill site. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center uses natural lighting, as well as LED lighting, and the primary forklift fleet uses hydrogen fuel cells with a zero-emission profile. It is built on the site of the old Dearborn Assembly Plant, using the former plant’s recycled foundation and construction materials.

This site will help build the new all-electric Ford F-150 Lighting pickup, which is an all-electric version of the F-Series truck and has a targeted EPA-estimated range of 300 miles, zero emissions, and available Ford Intelligent Backup Power.

Here’s how 5G can help support the production of EVs (electric vehicles). On the production line, employees use tablet computers to send and receive information about equipment status and material supply. Phones are also used as a vision system to scan specific components of the vehicle for accuracy. Both the phones and tablets will have 5G capability for faster processing times and better connection. 5G will support additional applications as the devices are updated to enable 5G connectivity.

Further, the lower latency of 5G can help automated robotics and machinery make better decisions and faster reaction times to improve the safety of the workers around them. Another benefit is Ford can make vehicle software updates wirelessly—which previously had to be made using mobile computing hardware. The 5G will provide a better connection for these updates.

The future is bright for manufacturing, with the help of 5G, and this is certainly the case for Ford, which is adding 450 more jobs to boost production of the F-150 Lighting at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. While this is simply one example, new connectivity will help to pave the way for faster production and new innovations—like EVs—that will come to market faster than ever before.

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