Coventry firm using ‘world-first’ 5G tech to speed up EV manufacturing

Factory: Female Industrial Engineer Wearing Virtual Reality Headset and Holding Controllers, She Uses VR technology for Industrial Design, Development and Prototyping in CAD Software.

Hyperbat, one of the UK’s largest independent vehicle battery manufacturers based at Unipart Manufacturing in Coventry, is using the latest 5G-enabled technology to significantly speed up the manufacturing process for hybrid and electric vehicle production in the UK.

Partnering with BT, Ericsson and NVIDIA, Hyperbat is set to benefit from a world first 5G Virtual Reality (VR) ‘digital twin’ solution which allows remote teams in different parts of the country to connect, collaborate, and interact using a virtual 3D engineering model. By enabling dispersed teams across design, engineering, and manufacturing to collaborate more efficiently, the technology is set to accelerate the pace of innovation within the UK manufacturing sector.

Hyperbat alongside its partners – BT, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technology, NVIDIA, Masters of Pie and The Grid Factory– unveiled details of the solution at the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (GTC), demonstrating how it will reduce product cycle time between design, engineering, and manufacturing teams based in Coventry and Oxfordshire.

The solution will allow design and engineering teams to walk around and interact with a 3D life-size model in real time through a single self-contained device, and without the constraints of a physical connection. Hyperbat colleagues in different locations will be able to work with a 1:1 product scale hologram of the design in-situ on the factory floor, review designs in real time, and manage workflows much more effectively.

The solution comprising high bandwidth and low latency 5G connectivity, integrated by Ericsson’s D-15 Lab in Santa Clara, California, will enable Hyperbat to deliver engineering projects at scale. This will help teams to improve build efficiency within its manufacturing processes, whilst removing current complexities between product management systems, supply chain, and factory operations.

The 5G VR digital twin solution will be deployed by BT and Ericsson on a 5G mobile private network, using the world’s first 5G-enabled VR headset. The Qualcomm VR headset will enable Hyperbat to use cloud-based virtual reality within computer-aided design (CAD) software. Using high performance edge compute, the solution also includes cutting-edge hardware and software from NVIDIA to seamlessly integrate into existing factory floor operations. Qualcomm’s VR headset incorporates split rendering where all the perception-based data is held locally on the device, but the computing is handled in the cloud and streamed by the NVIDIA CloudXR and NVIDIA RTX Virtual Workstation (vWS)solutions. This helps to achieve a seamless, high fidelity VR experience that produces a real-life experience for the manufacturing teams.

Hosein Torabmostaedi, Unipart Manufacturing Digital and Innovation Manager said: ‘‘Hyperbat is honoured to be working with such an incredible consortium of partners to pioneer a solution that lays the foundations for smart factory architecture and efficient, flexible and collaborative manufacturing. The solution is mainly targeted at collaborative mobile workforce with the use of 5G native headsets and seamless integration of design and manufacturing systems with the digital twin technologies. Hyperbat also hopes  to extend the solution to the use of 5G connectivity for machines to enable configurable and flexible production lines. The solutions will be demonstrated and trialled at Hyperbat’s facility in Coventry.”

Jeremy Spencer, 5G Innovation Senior Manager, BT’s Enterprise unit added: “This world-first 5G digital twin solution is a powerful reminder that 5G connectivity and Edge Compute is delivering real business benefits for our customers. 5G connectivity, when combined with the latest emerging tech, can produce incredible efficiency gains which will be so important in boosting the UK manufacturing sector as it recovers from COVID. It will also bring a welcome boost to many other industries where collaboration is required. We’re thrilled to be working with Hyperbat and such a strong network of partners to bring this innovation to life, made possible by combining our collective strengths across a range of technologies.”

“5G will have a transformative impact in the industries and technologies of the future and this collaboration with BT, Hyperbat and other eco-system partners is another demonstration of how low latency, edge compute and wireless networking will be critical to digitalisation within the enterprise sector. By delivering operational efficiencies through 5G technology, we are laying a foundation that can help to drive innovation in manufacturing, boost the economy and position the UK as a leading 5G nation,” said Björn Odenhammar, CTO, Networks & Managed Services, Ericsson UK & Ireland

“Bringing remote teams together in VR to collaborate and refine manufacturing processes will produce great efficiencies and innovations,” said David Weinstein, director of virtual reality and augmented reality at NVIDIA.“This 5G VR digital-twin solution — powered with NVIDIA RTX technology, CloudXR, and NVIDIA RTX Virtual Workstation software — will enable real-time immersion for teams both on the factory floor and remotely.”

The Hyperbat solution is near completion with results of the collaboration expected in early summer.