Thailand’s first 5G smart factory

06 April 2023

ZTE has partnered with Advanced Info Service Plc. (AIS) and Suranaree University of Technology (SUT), to demonstrate Thailand’s first 5G smart factory.
The technologies deployed include multiple advanced solutions like 5G cloud machine vision, 5G industrial AGV, AR remote guidance, VR panoramic monitoring and unmanned inspection robots. The demonstration showed industrial entrepreneurs the possibility of deploying 5G in their production lines and transforming their manufacturing plants into smart factories.

Partnering for the future

After the release of 5G license in 2020 by Thailand’s regulator, AIS became the first operator to offer 5G service in the country.

SUT, located in Nakhon Ratchasima, serves the needs of the industrial sector with numerous curricula relating to digital technology such as AI, cloud, IoT, VR and AR. The university also offers training in 5G technology to businesses.

The partnership with ZTE and AIS is expected to provide SUT with equipment that enables the demonstration of a variety of 5G use cases. Industrial entrepreneurs would have the opportunity to exploit 5G technology for efficiency improvement at their plants by observing use cases at the university and then determining how to best implement the technology in their factories. Businesses may also discover opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce costs or increase manufacturing capacity.

Resolving heavier network demands with 5G

With the adoption of various new technologies, the future smart factory places heavier demands on network performance, especially regarding throughput and latency.
Accordingly, for the smart factory’s network coverage, the ZTE QCell solution is used to provide 5G coverage at 2.6GHz. With 40MHz bandwidth, the 5G QCell can provide peak throughputs of 250Mbps and 40Mbps for downlink and uplink respectively. Additionally, since the 5G network is used fully to serve the network connections of the smart factory, it can be considered a private campus network independent from AIS’ 5G public network.

With the existing transmission path, the 5G network can connect with the AIS 5GC in Bangkok. In another data centre at Rone, the application servers are deployed for the smart factory. To further enhance the network performance for the smart factory, the ZTE MEC solution is also deployed at the same data centre next to the application servers. They all adopt the ZTE cloud platform.

In SUT’s exhibition hall, PCs and TVs are installed to monitor and show the images fed back by applications and robots in the smart factory. Three new routes were created to ensure the links between the exhibition hall, the smart factory, 5GC and application servers.

The smart factory has integrated 5G technology with the traditional production lines. The equipment is connected to the 5G network through 5G CPEs or 5G modules. The 5G industrial AGV adopts LIDAR and cloud enhanced visual positioning and navigation technologies. It can rapidly and precisely plan its moving paths and operate automatically, making it a vital tool to boost efficiency inside a factory, warehouse or on a production floor.

Facial recognition-enabled 5G inspection patrol robots perform the duties of a security guard by patrolling various areas and reporting suspicious activities.

The 5G cloud machine vision processes the images uploaded from different working positions with the centralized machine vision station deployed at the edge cloud and displays the status and control information of the equipment on a big monitoring screen. This solution responds to the key demands of product quality control, equipment management and production line monitoring that are widely present for modern manufacturing.

5G AR remote guidance enables work, training, and repair functions to be performed remotely without physical presence on site of relevant parties. Moreover, 5G VR monitoring acts as a real-time quality assurance inspection tool to ensure the application of uniform product standard from raw material to finished goods.

“AIS was the first to launch 5G service in February 2020, as the operator holding the most spectrum in low, medium and high bands,” said AIS chief enterprise business officer (CEBO) Tanapong Ittisakulchai. “Over 35 billion baht budgets are allocated by AIS for year 2020 and 2021 to cover 100% of the occupied zones in the EEC and key public health centers across the country for the battle against COVID-19. With ZTE and SUT, we have jointly developed solutions to better address the needs of the industry. This smart factory demo is based on 5G Total Solutions for Industry. We have deployed 5G SA digital infrastructure on 2.6GHz with excellent properties to support this use case, including reduced latency to provide full support for IoT.”

“As a major international provider of telecommunication, enterprise and consumer technology, ZTE is willing to expand 5G intelligent manufacturing in Thailand,” Ling Zhi, vice president for ZTE global marketing. “Together with AIS and SUT, we are providing industrial customers with the innovative solution, aiming to serve the enterprises with 5G based flexible and intelligent end-to-end solutions. Committed to empowering traditional industries with 5G, ZTE has carried out innovations with partners for 5G applications across over 15 key industries. Moving forward, together with AIS and SUT, we will help Thailand’s manufacturing industry to evolve towards a green, low-carbon, digital, and intelligent future.”