‘5G+industrial Internet’ upgrades manufacturing of China


Constantly expanding application scenarios of 5G integrating industrial Internet have significantly boosted the digital transformation of China’s manufacturing sector in recent years, improving product quality and production efficiency of manufacturing enterprises and injecting new impetus into the development of the industry.

Combining 5G with industrial Internet is considered an important approach to the digital transformation of manufacturing, a focus of technological innovation and efficiency improvement in China.

To improve the efficiency of troubleshooting for production lines, Chinese home appliance giant Haier Group developed a remote collaboration solution integrating 5G and augmented reality (AR) technology.

Based on 5G network and the group’s real-time remote collaboration platform, the solution realizes fast remote diagnosis and handling of equipment failure and assistance with and guidance on work in factories through virtual assembly technology.

Zhao Lianhui, head of a production line of a central air conditioner interconnected factory of Haier Group in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province, finds the solution both convenient and efficient.

“In the past, if we encountered equipment failure when assembling electronic devices, we had to ask experts to come to the site to fix problems. The communication was inefficient, that caused high labor costs,” Zhao said.

“Besides, we had to switch off relevant equipment and wait for technicians, which could delay the progress of our work,” Zhao added.

Thanks to the new remote collaboration solution, Zhao can now speak to technical experts in real time via a pair of 5G-based AR glasses and seek advice from them whenever a machine failure occurs. Experts can figure out the cause of the malfunction based on videos of the machine uploaded by the AR device and guide through voice communication system of the solution.

“AR-powered production scenarios require relatively high network bandwidth and low latency, and 5G network can exactly satisfy these requirements,” said Yang Weixin, chief inspector of production at the factory.

“Electronic devices have been updated and replaced so fast in recent years. As their components become more sophisticated, they are harder to assemble. Before the 5G-based AR glasses were introduced, we had to spend a lot of time watching instructional videos or reading instruction manuals before actually starting to work, and yet we could still make mistakes easily,” Zhao said.

Now with the 5G-based AR glasses, workers can start working soon after basic training, since instructions on how to assemble products can be accessed via the glasses, according to Zhao, who explained that the glasses can present instructions as 3D virtual images, and workers can touch the virtual user interface to check specific installation procedures.

“The solution that integrates 5G network and AR technology has not only shortened assembly time, but also reduced error rate and improved product quality,” Yang told media.

By leveraging 5G technology, the interconnected factory has put into use relevant devices empowered by smart technologies such as AR and artificial intelligence (AI) in eight types of machine vision application scenarios, improving assembly efficiency by 30 percent and product quality by 7 percent, according to Yang.