News Article

GM's Factory ZERO to Fully Embrace 5G

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 11/24/2020 - 13:23

GM announced that the Factory ZERO facility in Detroit will be the first automotive plant in the US to install a fixed 5G mobile network. The company expects to have "exponential increases" in both bandwidth and speed supporting the ongoing transformation of the plant. “Installing 5G at Factory ZERO is an essential step in the transformation of this plant and signals how important advanced manufacturing is in the ongoing race to an EV future," said Phil Kienle, GM Vice President of North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations.

GM's Factory ZERO is the automaker’s renewed facility focused exclusively on EV manufacturing. The project was announced in January this year with a US$2.2 billion investment for the Detroit-Hamtrack plant. “Factory ZERO is the next battleground in the EV race and will be GM’s flagship assembly plant in our journey to an all-electric future,” said Gerald Johnson, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing, in a statement. 

Verizon's 5G Ultra-Wideband service is now operating at Factory ZERO. Verizon announced that GM is one of its first customers to use the ultra-wideband service, which provides greater bandwidth than traditional 4G networks. “GM is among the first companies to harness the power of Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband to provide unique connectivity to employees and support new research and applications that will transform business and the automotive industry,” said Sampath Sowmyanarayan, President of Global Enterprise, Verizon Business. 

According to GM, Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) demand transforming manufacturing plants to enable connected devices to deliver benefits in terms of quality and safety. Different systems and processes involve equipment including robots, sensors and automated guided vehicles that deliver materials across the factory floor. 

“Factory ZERO’s new 5G connection will transmit critical application data securely and quickly for our manufacturing team,” said Randy Mott, GM’s Executive Vice President and CIO. “This is another example of cutting-edge use of technology improving quality and speed as GM accelerates its rollout of EVs.”

Benefits of 5G networks on the manufacturing floor include reliability, speed and productivity. 5G's bandwidth is able to handle thousands of devices across more than 4 million ft2 (371,612m2). Factory ZERO will see the production site of GMC Hummer EV and Cruise Origin.

MBN Expert Contributor and Partner at Hogan Lovells, Federico Hernández, still sees challenges for a change like this to come to Mexico. "The country faces a lot of challenges to make 5G connectivity a reality. It cannot be a goal solely for the mobile industry but for different actors at all levels and sectors. It also requires peripheral support including consultancy services, digital education and adoption. There are new opportunities for many players, which will require making the right decision at the right time." For Mexico to embrace new connectivity networks a "collaborative regulation" is needed, says Hernández. Should the automotive industry be leading the way?  

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst