Yamazaki Mazak is currently part of the Worcestershire 5G consortium

Japanese machine tool builder Yamazaki Mazak has been selected by the U.K. government as one of a select few companies to act as a testbed for the deployment of 5G technology.

Yamazaki Mazak, which is part of the Worcestershire 5G consortium, said 5G technology would allow industrial automation systems to operate at as-yet-unseen speeds, as well as increase the speed of real-time analysis, which will result in quicker reactions to any red flags and reduced downtime.

Mazak was chosen by the U.K. government as a 5G testbed due to its work to date in implementing Industry 4.0 design principles throughout its portfolio of machine tools and Computer Numerical Control  technology.

The consortium has been granted £4.8 million ($6.3 million) in government funding to conduct the 5G trial. The funding will be used to gauge how faster internet speeds can improve industrial productivity and advanced cyber security via increased investment in next-generation technology. This will include experimenting with preventative and assisted maintenance techniques using robotics, big data analytics and augmented reality, at the company’s European headquarters in Worcester.

“Manufacturers across the U.K. and beyond are now reaping the productivity rewards of greater connectivity among their industrial equipment. Industry 4.0 centers on the key design principals: interoperability of machines and devices, greater data transparency, technical assistance and decentralized decision making. We are starting to see these factors become more commonplace among UK manufacturers, but current internet speeds can only take us so far,” said Marcus Burton, non-executive director at Yamazaki Mazak, in a statement. “The 5G testbed represents a hugely exciting opportunity to drive further productivity growth, and facilitate even faster data transfer and analysis for manufacturers. It can only be a positive investment for the UK’s industrial sector, and Yamazaki Mazak is honoured to be taking part first-hand in the 5G technology trial.”

“Worcestershire, with its strong manufacturing and industrial base, has rightfully won its place as home to one of the U.K.’s first, innovative 5G testbeds,” said Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries. “I look forward to seeing how 5G connectivity will fuel the Midlands Engine – unlocking growth, increasing productivity and bringing wider benefits to our citizens and communities.”

Earlier this month, the U.K. government selected the West Midlands to host the country’s first multi-city 5G testbed.

The Urban Connected Communities Project, the next step in the Government’s 5G testbed and trials program, will develop a large-scale, 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in the cities of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will work with the 5G testbeds and trials team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and industry partners on preparing the formal business case for approval, with the first of a series of projects expected to go live early next year.

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