Now on air: 5G research network on Aachen campus goes live

The 5G network is ready: Start of transmission with (from left to right) Prof. Thomas Bergs and Prof. Robert Schmitt (Directors of WZL and Fraunhofer IPT), Olaf Reus (Member of the Management Board Ericsson GmbH), Jan-Peter Meyer-Kahlen (Director Ericsson ICT Development Center Eurolab), Sven Jung (Technical Director 5G at Fraunhofer IPT), Niels König (Project Manager 5G-Industry Campus Europe).
(PresseBox) ( Aachen, )
The 5G-Industry Campus Europe switched on its radio network on May 12, 2020: Through an area of almost one square kilometer, 19 antennas and a bandwidth of ten gigabits per second, we will run the largest 5G research network in Europe. The network at the RWTH Aachen Campus, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), connects the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of the RWTH Aachen University, the FIR (Institute for Industrial Management) at the RWTH Aachen University and, in the future, other University departments with the new mobile radio standard. Together, the partners at the 5G-Industry Campus Europe can now research and test in detail the areas of application of 5G in industrial use.

Only in March, the 5G-Industry Campus Europe was awarded a first 5G license in the 3.7 to 3.8 Gigahertz range, and now the network is up and running. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is funding the ambitious project with around six million Euros. Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer: "With the 5G-Industry Campus Europe we have created the largest 5G research network in Europe. It will help us to link 5G research and Industry 4.0. I am firmly convinced that projects like this are the future of German industry."

The aim of the involved partners is to open up new fields of application for 5G mobile communication technology in production: "This is where we create the future for innovative production. Joining companies and research partners, we are creating a completely new infrastructure with the 5G-Industry Campus Europe, where we can test and try out different 5G applications in production and logistics. This will completely redefine the previous requirements for the industries," says Niels König, who is leading and coordinating the project on behalf of the Fraunhofer IPT.

Together with the project partners from WZL and FIR, the Fraunhofer IPT will develop and implement applications and solutions for digital and networked production over the next three years. Partners for the development of the 5G infrastructure are the mobile network supplier Ericsson and the IT Center of the RWTH Aachen University. "We are delighted that the project presented jointly at Hannover Messe 2019 is now becoming reality, and that the 5G-Industry Campus Europe is creating a worldwide unique ecosystem for research, development and adaptation of 5G technologies for Industry 4.0," explains Jan-Peter Meyer-Kahlen, Head of the Ericsson ICT Development Center Eurolab in Herzogenrath near Aachen.

The research infrastructure of the 5G-Industry Campus Europe covers about one square kilometer of the Melaten campus of RWTH Aachen University as well as a total of 7,000 square meters of machine hall space, thus providing a generous area for researching various application scenarios – from 5G sensor technology for monitoring and controlling highly complex production processes, to mobile robotics and logistics and cross-location production chains.

Another target of the Aachen scientists is to test the use of modern edge-cloud systems for fast data processing in order to exploit the further potential of 5G for fully networked and adaptive production. "With the intelligent interaction of the 5G network and local edge-cloud systems, we are able to implement end-to-end real-time applications in a scalable way – from the sensor to the cloud. We create a unique ecosystem in Aachen, in which forward-looking concepts and architectures, such as real-time process analyses or closed-loop applications, can be implemented and validated holistically," explains Sven Jung, who heads the technical side of the setup.

The 5G-Industry Campus Europe is being developed in a research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and is directly focused on the introduction of the new mobile communications standard in the manufacturing industry. Interested companies and research partners, who would like to inform themselves or participate, can contact the consortium via the project website:

Project Consortium
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, Aachen (Project Management)
  • FIR (Institute for Industrial Management) at the RWTH Aachen University
  • Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of the RWTH Aachen
  • IT Center of the RWTH Aachen University
The research project "5G-Industry Campus Europe" is funded for three years by the BMVI (reference number: VB5GICEIPT).
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