Confirm: smart manufacturing future wireless innovation

By Georgia Wilson
Leading Science Foundation Ireland research centre - Confirm - launches its smart manufacturing ‘Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed...

In an announcement made by Confirm - a leading Science Foundation Ireland research centre in smart manufacturing - the company confirms the successful deployment of its Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed.

“Confirm Centre is delighted to launch the Smart Manufacturing Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed. Wireless communication between products, machines, production systems and supply chains form a major part of our digital thread strategy, designed to achieve mass customisation and enable [reconfigurability] in manufacturing plants and associated digital supply chains,” said Professor Conor Mc Carthy, Director of Confirm.

The Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed

Located at the Confirm Centre for Smart Manufacturing which is headquartered at the University of Limerick Digital District - one of the most advanced ‘purpose built’ manufacturing research facilities.

The new innovation Test-Bed has been designed and deployed with Dr Eoin O’Connell, a Funded Investigator in Confirm at the helm, exploring ideas and technologies to improve manufacturing environments. By utilising the latest wireless technologies - 5G, 6G and Wifi6 - the mission is to create smarter factories.

Planning and execution was a collaborative effort from Confirm and Netmore. THe Test-Bed’s design is inspired by the challenges faced by manufacturers and how they can benefit from technologies such as 5G. 

“We are very pleased that Confirm chooses Netmore as a supplier of 5G infrastructure for its operations in Smart Manufacturing. The fact that Netmore’s 5G technology is selected for the Innovation Test-Bed at the University of Limerick is proof that our services and our technology are suitable in the best possible way for environments that place high demands on capacity, reliability and security. We look forward to a long and successful collaboration with Confirm Smart Manufacturing,” added Ove Anebygd, CEO of Netmore.

Early tests

In December 2020, tests included the control of an Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle (AIV) via a 5G network at the Confirm Centre, which the company believes to be the first reported case of 5G wireless robotic control in Ireland. 

Initial results are ‘very promising’ from an accuracy point of view, indicating that the integration of 5G as a wireless signaling system within a manufacturing environment is now a more viable option.

Plans for the smart manufacturing Test-Bed

Dedicated to transforming the industry into a smart manufacturing ecosystem by integrating intelligence within operations and products, “the Innovation Test-Bed promises fast connectivity, more bandwidth and low latency with support for tens of thousands of devices in a small location (5G supports up to 1 million connections per km2), all of which are attractive prospects to manufacturing facilities,” says Confirm.

Other ways in which the the Test-Bed will help manufacturers include:

  • The chance to build smarter factories 
  • The ability to take advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the larger deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
  • Furthering the advancement of manufacturing operations, enabling businesses to be faster and be more responsive
  • Enabling manufacturers to enhance the scale and volume of data collection, improving process flexibility by eliminating wires and improving the ability to process data in near real-time

“It is now clear that the manufacturing sector will ultimately be driven by the capacity and scalability of high-speed networks. The Future Wireless Innovation Test-Bed at Confirm will enable cutting edge research to deliver the breakthroughs needed for the factory of the future,” said Dr Eoin O’Connell, Funded Investigator, Confirm.

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