Vodafone UK partnered with Ford Motor Company to deploy a private 5G network at the car maker’s electric vehicle facility in the country, a move showcasing the technology’s potential in the manufacturing sector.

In a statement, Vodafone UK explained it would use 5G to help Ford overcome many issues surrounding wireless connectivity in an industrial setting, promising “reduced delays, wider bandwidth, improved security and reliability and faster deployment time”.

The move forms part of a UK government initiative to invest £65 million in nine consortia to harness the potential of 5G. It committed £2 million specifically for the Vodafone, Ford project and has now approved final deployment.

Installation is set to be completed in September, connecting a Ford site in Dunton, Essex to a site in Cambridge run by research specialist The Welding Institute (TWI). The connected equipment will offer real-time control, analysis and remote expert support, “ensuring new manufacturing processes are shop floor-ready”.

Ford added it will focus on the connectivity of the welding machines in the manufacture of electric vehicles. For a single electric vehicle product, half a million pieces of data could be generated every minute, it explained.

Automotive first
The move gives a boost to Vodafone’s 5G enterprise offering, with private next-generation networks touted as a major use case.

Financial Times reported the facility in Essex will be one of the first automotive centres in the UK to be upgraded to 5G, replacing Wi-Fi, which struggles to process the amount of data generated.

Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business said added 5G private networks “act as a springboard for organisations, allowing them to rethink the way they do business”.