Inside Samsung’s 5G factory for AT&T
Among the businesses with the most to gain from 5G are manufacturing industries that require very high levels of precision in both their processes and their final products. This perfectly describes the semiconductor industry, where changes that are imperceptible to the human eye can have a huge impact on quality.
“Semiconductor facilities are inherently complex and automated,” said Derek Johnston, head of marketing at Samsung Networks. He described the company’s Austin, Texas, factory as “one of the most advanced fabs in the world.”
This complexity makes the chip fab a good candidate for 5G-enabled manufacturing. After AT&T tapped Samsung as one of its 5G radio equipment vendors, the two companies decided to use Samsung’s Austin facility as the site of a 5G testbed, which they call the 5G Innovation Zone. It’s a private 5G network that uses millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, and also leverages LTE and WiFi. Additionally, the network uses multi-access edge computing, meaning that on-premises servers are connected to the 5G network.
Mo Katibeh, EVP and CMO of AT&T Business, said the combination of 5G and multi-access edge computing enables the network to react in less than 10 milliseconds, or roughly as quickly as a human can think.
Samsung is using the network to leverage its best people to train new employees and direct workflow by using extended reality. “You can now have your best trainer in the country lead your new employees on interactive training experiences,” Katibeh explained. “In manufacturing, turnover is in the high teens. So up to one-fifth of the workforce can be brand new every year.” Samsung is using its 5G network to bring new workers up to speed faster, and Katibeh thinks other industries with high turnover, like retail, could also use 5G for remote mobile training.
5G enables training to take place where the actual work happens. Trainees can move around a factory floor without losing their high speed video connection to the instructor. Once they start to do actual work, they can use those same low-latency connections to get real-time help if they need it.
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