Ford UK warns on 5G factory challenges

Chris White

Ford UK

INTERVIEW: Ford UK’s 5GEM project lead explained a recent private network deal with Vodafone UK could be expanded, but cautioned replacing its entire existing infrastructure would take time.

Chris White (pictured) explained one of the major benefits of 5G compared to its former “hardwired” approach was the flexibility it offered from a data perspective, providing connectivity to lots of different equipment across its factories.

While the deal with Vodafone currently covers one plant, White said Ford was “obviously interested” in expanding the scope.

However, he cautioned there are challenges involved in overhauling its infrastructure completely, noting the cost of deploying a 5G network per square metre was “significant”.

“Today, we have connectivity, we have a very good connected shop floor. It’s a big infrastructure that’s taken us a long time to put in place. But we can’t simply replace that with a 5G network.”

“When we build new ones and when we build new equipment, that’s probably when we start to talk to the likes of Vodafone about new solutions. But, ultimately it will be some time before we see all our facilities transition to something else. It will be a gradual transition.”