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Singapore to test 5G in Industry 4.0 trial

Trial, spearheaded by IMDA, IBM, Samsung and M1, will test the use of 5G, along with AI and IoT technologies, in manufacturing

An industry group comprising public and private sector organisations is kicking off an Industry 4.0 trial in Singapore to test the use of 5G in manufacturing and other industries.

Announced at IBM’s Think 2020 virtual conference, the initiative is being spearheaded by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), IBM and Samsung, as well as M1, which is part of a joint venture that will build one of two standalone 5G networks in Singapore.

Among other goals, the participants in the trial will design, develop, test and benchmark 5G-enabled Industry 4.0 – the cyber-physical transformation of manufacturing – use cases that will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) capabilities.

For example, AI and visual analytics could be applied in quality control processes in manufacturing production lines. Other use cases include predictive maintenance of factory equipment and assembling products using augmented reality.

The trial will be conducted at IBM Singapore’s smart factory competency centre, with the resulting applications potentially rolled out at IBM’s manufacturing sites across the globe. Part of the technology foundation for the trial, which includes the use of Red Hat’s open source software, will also be supplied by IBM.

IMDA said it will share the learnings from the trial with Singapore businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing sector, as well as other players in the 5G ecosystem.

M1 said the trial will enable it to hone its 5G engineering chops, while Samsung noted that future factories will depend on the ultra-reliable and low-latency capabilities of standalone 5G networks to connect machines, sensors, databases and mobile devices.

“Singapore has long been a leader in fostering innovation, and this 5G Industry 4.0 programme is yet another validation of their technology leadership,” said KC Choi, executive vice-president and global head of B2B business at Samsung Electronics.

“By combining Samsung’s 5G standalone network platform, including phones and devices at the edge, we are witnessing ground-breaking Industry 4.0 capabilities for enterprise clients. More importantly, work and productivity aside, 5G will be a key tool in entertaining and connecting people,” Choi added.

Read more about 5G and Industry 4.0 in APAC

The tie-up comes on the back of Singapore’s efforts to transform its manufacturing industry, which accounts for one-fifth of the country’s GDP and 500,000 jobs.

In 2019, Singtel teamed up with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and JTC to deploy 5G at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre in Jurong. In 2018, HP and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University had set up a S$84m research lab aimed at advancing digital manufacturing technologies.

According to the World Economic Forum, Singapore, Japan and China are among the world’s top 25 countries well poised to gain from Industry 4.0 and other emerging technologies.

A separate McKinsey study found that 96% of ASEAN businesses believe Industry 4.0 will bring new business models to their industries.

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