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Ericsson and Kollmorgen Test 5G for Industrial Robots
by Shelly Kramer and Ron Westfall | February 23, 2022

In this vignette from The 5G Factor, a production of the Futurum Tech Webcast and our series focused on all things 5G, my colleague Ron Westfall and I talked about Ericsson and Kollmorgen teaming up to test 5G for industrial robots and the fact that bodes well for the industry as a whole.

A quick overview: Kollmorgen, a Swedish based manufacturer, joined Ericsson’s Industry 4.0 partner program last April. The company is now exploring how 5G can enhance mobile robots in partnership with Ericsson, working to prove that the company’s NDC solutions are 5G-ready.

The companies report results that so far seem to be promising, testing 5G capabilities against wifi. Tests were run using a privat e5G network setup, in addition to trials in 4G public network.

The goal here is to show that Kollmorgen’s NCD solutions are communication agnostic, which is kind of a big deal. The recent tests switched a wifi comms link with 5G in one of the vehicle control units, and the results were that there was no difference in stability on either the 5G or the wifi network. Exactly what they’re hoping for!

Kollmorgen’s NDC products include hardware, software, and navigation capabilities that help improve the efficiency of autonomous guided vehicles (AVGs) in manufacturing and warehouse settings. Kollmorgen’s clients include Toyota Material Handling Europe, Jungheinrich AG, Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe OY (Rocla), and others, and the company’s products are used by makers of AGVs in creating driverless logistics automation solutions.

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Transcript:

Shelly Kramer: Okay, moving right along, you mentioned Ericsson. We’re going to talk a little bit now about a partnership between Ericsson and a Swedish-based company called Kollmorgen, who are testing 5G for industrial robots. And so, as I said, Kollmorgen is a Swedish-based… Let me try this again. Kollmorgen is a Swedish-based manufacturer, and the company joined Ericsson’s Industry 4.0 partner program last April. And they’re now exploring how 5G can enhance mobile robots in partnership with Ericsson, and they’re working to prove that the company’s NDC solutions are 5G-ready. And so, I thought this was interesting, and again, we’re going into Mobile World Congress, and lots of things will be on display there, including things like this.

And so, what’s happened is that Kollmorgen has performed tests that, so far, appear to be promising. They’re testing 5G capabilities against Wi-Fi, and the tests were run using a private 5G network setup, something that we talk a lot about around here, in addition to trials in a 4G public network. And what they’re trying to do is, they’re trying to show that Kollmorgen’s NCD solutions are communication-agnostic, which is kind of a big deal. And the recent test switched a Wi-Fi comms link with a 5G one in one of the vehicle control units. And the results were that there was absolutely no difference in stability on either the 5G or the Wi-Fi network. That’s what you want, right? And so, Kollmorgen’s NDC, I think I said it incorrectly last time, NDC products include hardware, software, navigation capabilities that help improve the efficiency of autonomous guided vehicles, which are used in manufacturing and warehouse settings.

And the company’s clients are not small. They include companies like Toyota Material Handling Europe and Jungheinrich AG, and I probably butchered that, Mitsubishi’s Logisnext Europe, and others. And the company’s products are also used by makers of AGBs in creating driverless logistics automation solutions, so I thought that this is… We do a lot. We’re actually working on a research project right now, focusing on warehousing, automation, robotic solutions, and so this caught my eye, and you know what, I think that… Props here to programs like Ericsson’s Industry 4.0 partnership program, because being able to partner with companies who are doing and developing cool solutions like this, and using the expertise and the technology of Ericsson and their team, that’s how we get… We’ve talked a lot here before, Ron, about smart partnerships and how they’re really the key to great progress moving forward. And I think this is an example of a smart partnership and getting some really good results there, so I thought it was cool.

Ron Westfall: Yeah, and cool, it is. I think, in addition to smart partnerships, are also smart acquisitions. And as we know, Ericsson acquired Cradlepoint for over a billion dollars and is now in the process of acquiring Vonage for $6.2 billion, and clearly, these bets are targeted at the enterprise space, the Industry 4.0 arena. And I think this is a smart moves on Ericsson’s part for the reasons you outline, Shelly, in terms of these really fascinating partnerships and pushing forward these robotic capabilities, which always captures the imagination when you’re seeing it being done in a real world fashion.

But also, it’s quite simply, a target-rich opportunity. There are over 14 million industrial sites around the world, and you don’t have to capture every single one of them, obviously, but certainly, a key percentage of that is just clearly a way for Ericsson and its partners to define success, such as Kollmorgen, which sounds like a really interesting prog band, and that’s how I can remember the name of this new partnership. It’s definitely one that I’ll be paying attention to.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Like I said, we’re elbows deep in a research project on this very topic, and so what was happening there caught my eye. I thought it was interesting.

About the Authors

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”

Ron is an experienced research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets. He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including software and services, infrastructure, 5G/IoT, AI/analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues. Read Full Bio.