Ford Motor Company has signed a deal with Vodafone Business to install a private 5G network at the car maker’s electric-vehicle (EV) battery facility in Essex.
The project is part of a £65 million investment in 5G backed by the UK government, according to Ford and Vodafone, and would be among the first of its kind in the UK.
Both companies are leading a UK consortium that is trialling how 5G mobile private networks can improve the production processes for electric vehicles at two linked sites in Essex and Cambridge. The Cambridge site is at welding research specialists TWI, and the private network will allow the two sites to work together on welding electric batteries.
The consortium is one of nine projects that are sharing a £35 million funding pot awarded by the UK government for 5G trials. A total of £5 million was awarded to the Ford/Vodafone consortium and a separate consortium called 5G-ENCODE, led by UK tech company Zeetta.
Vodafone said the deployment of the private 5G network at Ford’s new E:PriME facility in Essex is scheduled for completion in the autumn. The aim is to reduce delays in manufacturing, increase bandwidth across the campus, improve security and reliability, and increase productivity.
E:PriME stands for electrified powertrain in manufacturing engineering and is a consortium led by Ford’s UK-based global manufacturing engineering team. The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) UK, a joint venture of the UK government and the automotive industry, said the E:PriME project has a total project value of £24.2 million, of which £12.1 million was provided by APC.