Tata Consultancy Services and Bharti Airtel said they have tested an automated, 5G-capable manufacturing setup using the 5G test spectrum allocated by the Ministry of Telecom.
Called the “Neural Manufacturing Suite,” the technology aims to implement a “light-off” factory setup, in which the factory produces everything on its own without supervision or intervention by humans or workers.
This is achieved by connecting all machines and input and output elements to sophisticated computers either at the same location or at a remote location, such as the corporate headquarters.
TCS said the solution is based on technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision (visual inspection of products using computers), virtual reality and industrial automation or the robotics.
The IT company has already incorporated elements of this vision into product suites such as TCS Autoscape, TCS Equiptix, Digital Manufacturing Platform, Intelligent Power Plant, and more.
The move towards full factory automation is seen as the next step in the industrial revolution. This is considered the logical culmination of a trend that began during the industrial revolution of the 19th century, when steam and electric machines began to be used to help workers increase their output and speed.
TCS said its goal is to help companies achieve a vision of a “stand-alone or extinct” factory, especially in industries such as manufacturing, consumer goods, automotive, aerospace, energy, utilities, health, life sciences and high technology.
While this can also be achieved by using traditional local wireless networking technologies such as WiFi, local networks do not work when the product or raw material is in motion, such as from the factory to the distribution center.
However, with 5G, products can stay connected to the global network regardless of location.
TCS said it has tested two use cases on Airtel’s 5G test network: remote manufacturing operations using robotics and vision-based quality inspection.
Remote manufacturing refers to controlling the manufacturing operations that take place in a factory using a powerful computer in a different location, such as the head office. Vision-based quality inspection is also similar, in that it uses a high-powered computer in a different location to monitor the quality of the final output using high-resolution cameras, wireless networks high bandwidth and machine learning.
TCS said technologies can transform plant operations and dramatically improve quality, productivity and safety.
“We will continue to integrate new, differentiated capabilities into TCS’s suite of neural manufacturing solutions, harnessing the power of machine vision, artificial intelligence and 5G to reimagine and redefine how smart factories operate. Our partnership with Airtel to deploy and validate these innovative use cases on their 5G network serves as proof of the transformative power of these technologies, ”said TCS.