Foxconn Smart Manufacturing Center Deploys Airspan CBRS Network Solution

Airspan-powered CBRS network is live at the FII Smart Manufacturing Center; 5G upgrades on the way 

In 2017 Foxconn initiated plans to build a smart manufacturing operation in Wisconsin for its FII arm (Foxconn Industrial Internet). By September 20, 2020, Mortenson crews topped-off the Epcot-like data center in preparation for commencing operations. Concurrently, Airspan Networks was deploying a critical piece of what would enable the FII manufacturing center to be “smart” – the CBRS network over which all autonomous operations would be managed. The project scope was FII’s first-built fabrication facility on the campus, this building was 100,000 sq. ft. and had several AGVs, assembly areas and welding stations that required an extremely reliable network with consistent coverage to properly operate and communicate. Communication was needed between the automation units, factory stations, data center, lab space and parts room. Factory stations included assembly, cabling, pack-out, testing, storage and other areas. The Airspan CBRS solution, deployed over LTE for better-than-WiFi coverage, created an extremely stable connection for end-to-end factory monitoring and management. The Airspan-designed network incorporated AirVelocity 1500 indoor cells which were strategically located throughout the factory. FII DTUs were connected to each indoor cell, 1588 Grand Master Clock switches were also installed. Airspan software managed the network which all flowed through the FII EPC and the SAS, managed by Google.

The next stage of the project is an end-to-end upgrade to 5G RF in mid-2021. This is set to incorporate Airspan’s new OpenRANGE end-to-end solution including Sub6 RU on the hardware side, and CU and DU on the software side together with Airspan’s Control platform (ACP) managing the network. The Airspan 5G solution is fully compliant with 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance Technical Specifications. The upgrade will offer higher performance and coverage as well as accurate distributed timing and synchronization which will improve factory ROI.

“Airspan is proud to join with FII and embark on the journey to transform Industrial IoT and drive innovation through leveraging the FCC’s recent spectrum release of CBRS. This proof of concept has demonstrated the orchestration of LTE over CBRS is a functional, reliable and economical solution for automating smart factories. We look forward to bringing further advancements to the FII Smart Manufacturing Center with the upgrade to 5G RF,” said Eric Stonestrom, President and CEO.