Haier, China’s leading consumer electronics and home appliance manufacturer, successfully implemented new production solutions integrating 5G and mobile edge computing in its smart factories with the help of Huawei and China Mobile. On Friday, the three revealed the discoveries in Qingdao, China.
The solutions, which were developed in a joint-innovation facility that opened in February, combine 5G edge computing with artificial intelligence and, in particular, machine vision in manufacturing contexts. They may be used in a range of production environments and perform a variety of tasks. Haier has launched the technologies at seven smart factories in China, and plans to expand the implementation at 20 factories by the end of 2022.
Within five years, Huawei is projected to assist Haier in deploying 5G technology and transforming around 100 of its production plants throughout the world. The three also intend to sell the technologies to other top Chinese and international firms.
Manufacturers benefit from 5G’s high bandwidth (up to 20GBps) and low latencies (as low as 1 millisecond). One of 5G’s primary characteristics is mobile edge computing, which provides extremely low-latency cloud computing. However, for manufacturers hoping to fully utilise 5G’s possibilities, it’s still early days.
The solutions enable the implementation of high-performance machine vision in a manufacturing environment through low-latency connections between high-definition cameras, the AI modules at the factory site, and the training servers located off-site.
Deployed on a 5G-enabled production line, machine vision saves manufacturers costs by rapidly performing QC checks with over 99% accuracy, at least 10% more accurate than without the function. Compared with visual inspection performed by humans, machine vision delivers much fewer false positive and false negative results.
The three partners also developed technologies to boost site and staff safety. Unlike traditional video surveillance systems that only have a recording function, AI-surveillance can automatically create alarms in real time when it detects anomalies on the factory floor. The technology can identify non-authorized individuals, process safety violations, and workers who aren’t where they should be.
In addition, the new solutions help to efficiently coordinate the large number of people, machines, and materials involved on a complex production line as a whole. The solutions achieve this through high-definition cameras, 5G gateways, and smart industrial terminals that work in unison with the help of artificial intelligence.
In future, the solutions will be further improved to provide “digital twins” visualization. Digital twin is the reproduction of a real and dynamic production floor into a virtual digital world, a meta-universe. Digital twin makes just-in-time preventive maintenance a reality and enables the simulation of changes to the production process before they are implemented. The three are also experimenting how 5G environment can support automated guided vehicles to transfer items in warehouses or manufacturing lines more accurately and efficiently.