Three, Ericsson and Glanbia team up on indoor 5G for manufacturing

22 Jul 2021

Brian Farrell of Glanbia, Karl Duffy of Three Ireland, and Robert Stack of Ericsson. Image: Jeff Harvey/HRphoto

The 5G system will be installed Glanbia’s biggest Irish plant with the aim of increasing manufacturing efficiency.

Three Ireland, Glanbia and Ericsson have announced a partnership to build an indoor 5G network at Glanbia’s largest Irish facility.

The project will involve the nutrition group’s cheese plant in Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny. The aim is to enhance maintenance, analysis and administration capabilities at the facility, taking advantage of the connectivity and data security provided by indoor 5G.

Glanbia also said it is planning to trial augmented reality and virtual reality applications in its manufacturing process.

The companies are describing this as the first indoor 5G implementation in a live manufacturing environment in Ireland, and said it would enable “faster and easier installation in comparison to Wi-Fi, while offering greater performance, security and latency”.

The system will use Ericsson’s Radio Dot system and Three’s 5G spectrum. Ericsson has published a whitepaper in which it highlights a number of use cases for indoor 5G, with a particular focus on environments with a high density of internet-of-things devices.

Three launched its 5G network with tech from Ericsson in September of last year. In December, the telco then announced it would begin to offer 5G broadband to Irish customers.

Karl Duffy, head of enterprise and public sector at Three Ireland, said: “This is the first indoor 5G network of its kind in Ireland and will deliver real efficiencies for Glanbia. The opportunity is there for companies of all sizes to create a pilot and scale over time.

“The companies that act now will achieve first-mover advantage within their sector, which can’t be underestimated.”

John Griffin, CEO of Ericsson Ireland, added: “5G offers the biggest ever potential platform for innovation and this exciting strategic partnership between Three Ireland, Ericsson and Glanbia will unlock the real value of industry 4.0 for Ireland’s manufacturing sector.

“From enabling true digital transformation to helping boost productivity and creating operational efficiencies, 5G can provide the foundation for Ireland to revolutionise critical industries and lead the way for future innovation and economic growth.”

Brian Farrell, engineering manager at the Glanbia plant in Ballyragget, described the initiative as “groundbreaking”.

“It’s allowing us to bring to life some of the early learnings from our participation in an EU-funded Horizon 2020 5G project,” he added.

Uptake of 5G continues to grow, with a recent report predicting there will be 3.9bn mobile subscriptions worldwide by 2026.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin