ABB to adopt world’s first industrial application utilizing 5G and AI at its drives factory in Helsinki

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ABB has teamed up with software company Atostek and  telecom group Telia to work on a pilot project that is expected to lay the foundation for new industrial solutions based on 5G wireless technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The project involves piloting the world’s first industrial AI application using 5G wireless technology to support the assembly of drives at ABB’s plant in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki.

ABB said he AI application will support the plant’s workers by monitoring the assembly of the drives by camera and ensuring they are correctly assembled according to a customer’s order and applicable work instructions.

“The fast 5G connections will provide workers with real-time feedback and this should make assembly significantly easier than following work instructions from a paper document, thereby helping to improve quality,” ABB said in a statement.

Atostek is responsible for the computer vision and the AI application, while Telia is providing the system’s high-speed 5G mobile connections and providing the computing capacity needed by the application in its data centre.

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Chris Poynter, Group Vice President for ABB System Drives, said the application is being applied to the power module assembly line, which is critical to production quality and demanding for employees as dozens of different versions of the same product are assembled on the same line.

“The potential of AI is strongest when combined with human expertise, and the goal of supporting employees in a new way is at the heart of this project,” Mr Poynter explained.

“At its best, this real-time quality assurance system not only improves production line quality and productivity, but also reduces the stress associated with human errors, which helps improve wellbeing at work.”

5G allows wireless technology to be applied much more widely than has so far been possible and this is expected to significantly boost global production over the next few years.

By introducing the 5G AI solution, ABB and its partners are exploring how industrial applications that require high data capacity and high computing power can be implemented in scalable form in the future, regardless of location. For example, the AI application could be integrated with enterprise resource planning systems.

The project is being implemented in stages and will be in full-scale production in mid 2019.

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