The First 5G Fully-Connected Factory Built in Southeast Asia

[Chonburi, Thailand] Midea, AIS, China Unicom, and Huawei have jointly implemented the first 5G fully-connected factory in Southeast Asia, setting a new standard for smart manufacturing in the region. This collaboration marks a new milestone in the 5G era, enhancing efficiency, safety, and automation in complex production processes.

Harnessing the comprehensive 5G network coverage of the Midea Industrial Park in Chonburi and a 5G+ industrial Internet platform, each production phase is seamlessly connected through 5G terminals to enable faster machine operation. A dedicated 5G private network has been deployed to support factory operation requirements and leverage intelligent industry applications, which facilitates manufacturing scenarios and interconnects each production line.

While showing the plant to visitors recently, Mr. Vincent Cai, General Manager of Midea Thailand Air Conditioning Factory said: “In line with Midea Group’s strategy of full digitalization and full intelligence, Thailand’s 5G smart factory sets the blueprint for the future of manufacturing, where everything is connected and green and high-quality plants are built.” Among the key solutions that make the factory “5G fully connected” are:

  • 5G Data Collection and Analysis: The combination of massive connections and high reliability offered by 5G networks enables real-time monitoring and analysis of production devices. Continuous data collection and analysis optimize equipment utilization, mitigate downtime, and enhance overall equipment capacity.
  • 5G Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV): Through the power of 5G technology, AGVs have undergone a paradigm shift, moving beyond preset routes and physical markers for navigation. Dynamic path planning and real-time environmental data analysis enhance flexibility and adaptability, significantly improving operational efficiency in complex factory environments.
  • 5G AI Inspection: Leveraging AI, production efficiency sees a significant boost with a 4% increase in “first-time yield” (the percentage of units produced that pass QA the first time). AI detection drastically reduces the number for reworked devices from 4000 to 1000 per year, representing a 75% slashing in rework rates and minimizing operational errors.
  • 5G Robotic Arms: Workers are now empowered to remotely control robotic arms via 5G smartphones, eliminating the need for hazardous manual intervention in the production process. This not only enhances worker safety but also optimizes production material flow, resulting in higher product quality.
  • 5G Operating Room: Equipped with 5G technology, operating rooms simulate and test the status of outdoor compressors, ensuring efficient and reliable operations. With zero data loss and low latency capabilities, 5G backhaul guarantees seamless data transmission for critical applications.

Throughout this project, operators have been pivotal in driving digital transformation, leveraging their expertise and local ecosystem to deploy 5G in achieving new levels of enhanced efficiency, massive connectivity, and operation data security.

Mr. Phupa Akavipat, Acting Chief Enterprise Business Officer at Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), emphasized AIS’s commitment to continuous innovation: “Compared with other technologies, 5G is the only technology allowing network coverage over 160,000 sq.m. covering 3 production plants. Looking ahead, AIS remains committed to driving innovation and assisting global manufacturers to replicate their smart factory setup in Thailand.”

This was echoed by Ms. Eunice Tse, General Manager of China Unicom Operations (Thailand) Limited, who highlighted the foundational importance of telecom and IT infrastructure: “Thailand’s 5G network readiness positions itself as a frontrunner in the ASEAN region. China Unicom is devoted to support the success of Thailand 4.0 strategy with extensive use cases and new 5G2B scenarios, and drive digital and intelligence transformation for manufacturers.”

Mr. Woragarn Likhitdechasakdi, Chief Technology Officer of Huawei Thailand, reiterated Huawei’s dedication to industry transformation: “We have seen how 5G has played an important role in driving industry transformation. The manufacturing sector has shown significant potential for development and transformation with the adoption of 5G technology. Huawei remains committed to collaborating with industrial customers, operators, and partners to generate 5G business value.”

Likhitdechasakdi added: “To achieve this goal, we will actively engage with our customers to understand their digital strategies. By delving into production processes and identifying specific needs, we aim to share valuable experiences and best practices that accelerate the adoption of 5G for intelligent manufacturing upgrades.”

The establishment of the first 5G fully connected factory in Southeast Asia marks a significant milestone in Thailand’s journey towards intelligent transformation and Industry 4.0, showcasing the power of collaboration and innovation in shaping the future of manufacturing.