Ericsson has announced plans for its first fully-automated smart factory in the US which will focus on building radio masts to support the rapid rollout of 5G.
The 5G-powered factory will have fully-automated warehouses including automated assembly, packing and product handling, autonomous carts to move goods around and connected logistics.
It will be used to manufacture radio masts to boost network capacity and coverage in rural and urban areas of the US and assist with the rapid deployment of 5G.
Ericsson said it is currently in discussions with local and state authorities to confirm the factory’s location but it is “committed to the factory being operational in early 2020”.
The smart factory will enable agile operations and flexible production to meet customer demand.
Ericsson said: “The new smart factory complements Ericsson’s global supply chain, which ensures the company is working close to customers through its European, Asian and American operations, securing fast and agile deliveries to meet customer requirements.”
The planned factory follows on from Ericsson’s strategic initiatives outlined in 2018 to increase flexibility and shorten the timeline for new product introduction and product delivery to customers.
Fredrik Jejdling, executive VP and head of networks at Ericsson, said: “We continue to focus on working closely with our customers and supporting them in the buildout of 5G globally and in North America.
“In addition, we are digitalising our entire global production landscape, including establishing this factory in the US. With 5G connectivity we’re accelerating Industry 4.0, enabling automated factories for the future.”
Meanwhile, a report from Oxford Economics estimated 20m people working in manufacturing globally could lose their jobs as a result of industrial robots.
Researchers said the robotics surge was due to rising demand for manufactured goods, increased capability and the fact robots are becoming cheaper than humans.
However, it added: “The current wave of robotisation tends to boost productivity and economic growth, generating new employment opportunities at a rate comparable to the pace of job destruction.”
Since 2010, the global stock of industrial robots has more than doubled, while 20% of the world’s industrial robots are located in China.
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