BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) has become the first automobile manufacturer to enable full 5G wireless coverage at all its plants. The new wireless standard allows large quantities of data to be transferred within a very short space of time, since data will now be processed in small, high-performance computer centers directly on site and no longer has to travel long distances. This means that networked machines and systems can exchange data in real time, for instance, and align themselves even better with the production process.
5G provides the ideal conditions for numerous digital innovations and has the potential to further increase efficiency, quality and flexibility in production, BBA says.
BBA is also implementing the technology in a pilot project that uses 5G to transfer large quantities of test data from vehicles to the data center in real time, making data collection and analysis more efficient. In this way, vehicle updates involving large volumes of data and real-time diagnostics could also be conducted remotely in the future.
With this development, BBA becomes the first automobile manufacturer to use 5G technology in automotive development and production.
Full 5G coverage, transfer rate of 1 Gbps. BBA was the first 5G pilot company in Shenyang to begin developing a 5G network for its three plants back in October 2018. Once construction of the 21 mobile phone masts and 35 5G base stations was completed in April 2019, BBA already had full 5G network coverage at its car plants in Tiexi and Dadong, as well as at its powertrain plant.
After only three months of technical optimizations, the 5G data rate increased from an initial 600 megabytes per second to one gigabit per second—fast enough to download an entire HD film in just a few seconds.
BBA sees the potential of 5G technology in many areas of production. Possible 5G application scenarios include augmented reality, cloud-based control of autonomous transport systems, human-machine interaction using mobile smart devices, robot-to-robot communications and communication between robotics systems and the control centre. Effective application of 5G technology in these areas has the potential to transform automobile production and boost productivity.
BBA partnered with China Unicom and China Mobile to build the necessary infrastructure and connect the 5G network across a total area of more than three million square meters.
The BMW Group is currently preparing to set up local, private 5G networks at its plants in Germany. The benefits of the new technology are not just in its high data rate and rapid response time, but also in the reliability and security of the network. It therefore offers optimal conditions for innovations that work with large quantities of data in real time. These include applications from the field of virtual and augmented reality, wide-scale networking of machines and the use of autonomous logistics fleets.
The long-term aim is to establish 5G networks at all BMW Group plant locations worldwide.