Finnish kit vendor Nokia and robot manufacturer Mobile Industrial Robots will showcase autonomous mobile robots at the Stuttgart based logistics event LogiMat.

The firms claim it will be the first demonstration of private 5G wireless running AMR’s at an international logistics event – which has a few caveats baked in but we’ll take their word for it.

The demonstration will describe how 5G can be used for managing robots in factories and warehouse settings. MiR will plug some of its autonomous robots into a Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) end-to-end industrial private wireless set up at its booth at the event, and they will be connected to the 5G private wireless network using Nokia Industrial dongles, which have their own SIM cards inside.

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What is 5G bringing to the table as opposed to say, connecting them up via wifi or 4G, or 3G?  Continuous reliable coverage apparently. The firms say instructions can be delivered and actioned in real time, with all data remaining securely within the network while to robot workers stay connected when bombing about in large spaces, like a massive warehouse.

“Nokia DAC allows industries to deploy private 4.9G/LTE and 5G wireless networks to digitally transform their operations,” said Jochen Apel, Vice president, Digital Industries for Nokia Enterprise.  “We look forward to demonstrating with MiR how high-performance enabled by 5G ensures there are no breaks in coverage so real time instructions can be delivered and actioned with autonomous mobile robots on large manufacturing floors and warehouses.”

Søren E. Nielsen, President of MiR added: “Our AMRs address a range of workflows that allow manufacturing, warehouse and distribution centers to automate time-consuming tasks. Working with Nokia, we can showcase the benefits of 5G to enable real-time fleet management.”

Industry 4.0, the concept of upscaling things like factories by layering on technology such as private 5G networks, cloud software management and AI, often throws up some of the more visible uses for something like 5G. On the consumer side even if you have a 5G connection it is somewhat hard to ascertain what extra value you are getting out of it, but there are some solid arguments for the benefits to efficiency and productivity to be made by use cases such as the one described here by Nokia and MiR.

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Some take the line however that the point of digital transformation is actually one of sustainability, and that it is crucial for the environment that industry and other sectors are modernised with 5G networks and autonomous all-sorts – a point Telefónica made at Davos this week.

It’s not immediately obvious how this automatically is a sustainability thing, and while the argument can be – and is – made, firms that have been sold the promise of space age tech improving their businesses for years might be best persuaded that the revolution is finally here and worth dropping tons of cash on when the benefits are explained succinctly and on very practical terms.

 

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