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KT shows off 5G manufacturing

Company will make technologies available from the third quarter
May 31,2019
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Models test KT’s 5G-connected smart factory services in central Seoul, Thursday. The service package demonstrated is set for official release in the third quarter. [KT]
Robots arms pick up components and place them on a conveyor belt. Along the way, cameras and image sensors scan to detect faults and send information on each part to the central system to verify quality. If flawed, they are pushed off the belt immediately after passing the camera. Fault information is sent right away to the portable tablets of human managers.

KT demonstrated Thursday 5G-powered smart factory services in central Seoul, Thursday, which are set for real-world application from the third quarter of the year.

The three products introduced were collaborative robots, machine vision and the FactoryMakers management system.

Collaborative robots can work beside human beings and instantly react to their requests, compared to most existing industrial robots that move based on input commands. Machine vision is technology that helps computers recognize parts just as the human eye transfers visual information to the brain.

Technically speaking, these technologies are not completely new. But KT explains that unwired, immediate exchange of data offered by the 5G network can help underfunded mid- and small-sized companies make use of smart factory technology.

Another advantage is that 5G connections can eliminate the need for wires to transfer data, thus reducing costs of installation when changes are made on the manufacturing line for a new product.

“Large-sized conglomerates are already doing a good job - they have technology in terms of ICT and the cloud, but this is not the case for smaller manufacturers. I believe the Edge Cloud and the central management system are services KT can offer them,” said Lee Yong-gyoo, KT’s senior vice president in charge of the 5G platform development unit.

FactoryMakers is the 24-hour control system that KT will offer its manufacturing clients. Connected by the 5G network, the system will constantly keep track of the manufacturing processes and product quality with latency measured in milliseconds. On the 4G LTE network, the latency for similar data transactions would be three to four seconds. FactoryMakers is also capable of automatically fixing errors.

The Edge Cloud is another service KT offers on the 5G network. It includes cloud-based services, like data analysis, blockchain-based security and error forecasting, with real-time information.

To ensure security, KT will provide a 5G network space divided for each manufacturer completely blocked from general consumers. Only approved devices will be able to access the company’s 5G network. This is with “network slicing” technology that wasn’t available on previous networks.

KT is developing the 5G smart factory package with partners with different expertise: Hyundai Heavy Industries Group for robots, Cognex for machine vision, Yudo Group’s Studio S3 for automated factory logistics and Telstar-Hommel for systems that connect old industrial machines to the telecommunication networks. KT’s role will be offering the 5G network connection, the cloud and security. The services are set for official launch in the third quarter and are currently undergoing tests.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]