AT&T joins MxD to boost 5G innovation

Aug. 6, 2019
Manufacturing companies are thinking about how they can test 5G technology.

MxD and AT&T recently announced they are working together to help accelerate the deployment of 5G to the US manufacturing industry. AT&T is collaborating with MxD to install 5G technology and Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) within MxD’s Chicago-based innovation center.

MxD's Chandra Brown

“AT&T will bring a new perspective to our mission of helping US manufacturers build every part better than the last,” said Chandra Brown, CEO of MxD. “This is the first time we will bring a communications-technology provider into our institute. By including AT&T’s 5G network into our manufacturing testbed, our partners will get firsthand access to 5G technology to co-create use cases and test advanced digital-manufacturing applications for the future of the industry.”

We wanted to learn more, so we posed a series of questions to stakeholders. Take a look…

Smart Industry: What is the state of 5G adoption in the manufacturing sector?

“5G adoption in the manufacturing sector is still in the early stages but we’re seeing more manufacturing companies coming to us to think about how they can test 5G technology

AT&T's David Van Dorselaer

within their company today while helping them plan for tomorrow’s macro-deployed 5G.” David Van Dorselaer, GM Industry Solutions-Manufacturing, AT&T Business

Smart Industry: What is prompting its adoption? What is slowing its adoption?

“Industry 4.0 is introducing an array of digital technologies to manufacturers. Costs are coming down on sensors as computing capabilities increase, and the factory of the future that seemed a lofty vision only 10 to 15 years ago is quickly becoming a reality. 5G is consistent with that trend as manufacturers realize it can make an impact on their efficiency and productivity by processing large quantities of information faster. While it is a hot topic among our partners and manufacturers across the country, it is still a nascent technology relative to manufacturing and there are several barriers to adoption. In a 2018 report by Ericsson, the top three issues cited were concerns about data security, lack of standards, and the challenges of end-to-end implementation. We believe the use cases that we implement in our facility will help address some of these challenges and give manufacturers actionable information and tools they can take to their own shop floors.” Tony Del Sesto, vice president of projects & engineering, MxD

Smart Industry: What benefits does 5G provide manufacturers? Do any particular sectors have particular benefits?

MxD's Tony Del Sesto

“The main benefits are the ability to communicate large amounts of data from sensors on machines and elsewhere in the manufacturing environment and low latency (no lag time in the transfer of information). The manufacturing sector is already leading in the amount of data it produces, and this trend is continuing as low-cost sensors permeate the industry. Another benefit is the ability to get this communication capability in place without ripping up your factory to install wired infrastructure—a  major impediment for existing factories to go digital.” Tony Del Sesto

Smart Industry: Provide a few specifics regarding the 5G-enabled capabilities at MxD.

“Using 5G and Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC), a localized cellular network will be created within the MxD walls so that scalable demos can be exhibited. We anticipate use cases related to IIoT, advanced robotics, flexible networking, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and more. We are looking forward to this being up-and-running by the end of 2019.” David Van Dorselaer

Smart Industry: Address the health risks some associate with 5G. What considerations are being made with this program?

“MxD and AT&T follow the FCC recommendations contained in its consumer guide on wireless devices and health concerns. Find the link here.” AT&T statement

Smart Industry: What most excites you about this initiative at MxD?

“This is a first-of-its-kind membership for AT&T. We believe that MxD is well positioned to enable innovation within the manufacturing industry. AT&T is excited to be a part of that innovation by bringing 5G and edge capabilities into the MxD innovation center. This membership allows us to develop and test 5G and edge applications with US manufacturing companies to help drive new experiences and innovation not only today, but for the future of Industry 4.0.” David Van Dorselaer

Want more from MxD? Click here to learn about the upcoming Influential Women in Manufacturing 2019 Awards Luncheon.