The BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture, since being founded in 2003 has become one of the most successful premium automobile manufacturers in China. It is responsible for the local production and sales of BMW automobiles along with development tasks. Now, it is the first automobile manufacturer to enable full 5G wireless coverage at all its plants.
With a transfer rate of 1Gbps, the BBA began the development of its 5G network for its three plants back in October 2018 involving a partnership with China Unicom and China Mobile. By April 2019, the construction process involving 21 mobile phone masts and 35 5G base stations was complete.
Using this new wireless standard allows large quantities of data to be transferred within a very short space of time. For instance, being able to download an entire HD film in just a few seconds. This means that networked machines and systems can exchange data in real time and align themselves even better with the production process.
BBA sees the potential of 5G technology in many areas of production. Possible scenarios include cloud-based control of autonomous transport systems, augmented reality and effective communication between robotics systems and the control centre. It is also implementing this technology in a pilot project that uses 5G to transfer large quantities of test data from vehicles to the data centre in real time for more efficient data collection.
Johann Wieland, president of the joint venture between the BMW Group and its partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd says “5G is a ground-breaking technology with the potential to revolutionise industrial production. BBA is taking a leading role in testing the use of 5G and developing new innovations and procedures to improve industrial productivity.”
The BMW Group is current preparing to set up local, private 5G networks at its plants in Germany. This will bring additional benefits to the reliability and security of the network on top of its high data rate. The long-term aim is to establish 5G networks at all BMW Group plant locations worldwide.