Verizon deploys private 5G at Deloitte smart factory in Wichita

Verizon Business installed a private 5G wireless network at a smart factory run by Deloitte in Wichita, Kansas.

The 60,000-sq-foot factory — known as The Smart Factory @ Wichita — is an innovation center that integrates the digital and physical to experiment with Industry 4.0 ideas and use cases. Those involved at the factory are working on manufacturing innovation related to IoT, cloud, computer vision and cybersecurity.

It's already operating a live manufacturing line, which produces STEM circuit kits that are then donated to local schools to promote STEM education.

The factory, itself, is a net-zero impact smart building. It’s located on the Innovation Campus at Wichita State University. In addition to the production line, it has experiential labs for developing smart manufacturing technology.

Twenty organizations are already participating in the smart factory, including Wichita State University, AWS, SAP, CheckPoint, Siemens and HPE, as well as Verizon, to name a few.

According to Jennifer Artley, SVP of 5G Acceleration at Verizon Business, the private wireless network is fully set up and operational, so all partners at the Smart Factory @ Wichita can take immediate advantage of it.
The network uses a combination of Ericsson (LTE) and Corning (5G) radios, which use Verizon’s licensed spectrum for LTE and 5G.

The factory uses a mixture of Wi-Fi and the private network. “Over the next few months, we will be porting multiple use cases from Wi-Fi to the Verizon 5G wireless infrastructure that we’ve put in place,” said Artley.

Verizon’s private 5G wireless network will help drive select use cases at factory, including:

  • The use of predictive maintenance analytics to find and eliminate the root causes of downtime.
  • Improvements in quality assurance by detecting potential defects in manufactured products, improving the customer experience and reducing waste.
  • Automating material handling through traffic management systems.
  • Improvements in workplace safety by reducing human error and manual workloads.

Verizon and Deloitte have worked together before. In 2021 they unveiled a 5G and mobile edge computing (MEC) platform for retail.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has been a champion of MEC, but in December 2022 he acknowledged that MEC on the public cloud isn’t moving as quickly as he’d like and that enterprises have pivoted to private networks instead.