British Sugar Connects Manufacturing Sites with 4G Network

The company is linking four of its factories with the network to implement advanced technologies like AI and robotics.

John S. Forrester, former Managing Editor

February 3, 2022

2 Min Read
British Sugar's Wissington facility was recently connected to a private 4G network along with three other factories.Image courtesy of British Sugar

A new private 4G mobile network recently became operational across several British Sugar manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom as part of the firm’s effort to modernize its production capabilities.

The sugar beet processor worked with Virgin Media O2 Business to implement the custom-built secure 4G network between four British Sugar factories over a total area of 2.17km2.

“The network will connect multiple IoT (Internet of Things) devices, which means British Sugar will be able to revolutionize its production process, introducing innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), automated production lines, robotics, and drones,” the company said in a January 25 release. “This will help increase productivity, boost efficiency, and also improve health and safety on site.”

British Sugar is currently making a “multi-million-pound” investment in four “Factory of the Future” facilities that will feature automated manufacturing processes and AI-driven predictive maintenance.

At a time when manufacturing facilities are facing increased cybersecurity threats, the firm points out that the network provides an increased layer of security. The system also addresses issues with installing wireless internet in manufacturing locations.

“Using a 4G private network also makes for increased security and control, and enables seamless, high-bandwidth connectivity in a complex factory setting where introducing WiFi is challenging (due to a highly metallic factory environment with a requirement for both indoor and outdoor coverage),” British Sugar said in the announcement.

To support the network, British Sugar entered into a seven-year partnership with Virgin Media O2 Business. The business internet services company brought in Nokia as a partner in the project.

The network was designed to be easily upgraded to 5G as British Sugar increases the complexity of its manufacturing processes and additional advanced technologies like automated ground vehicles and connected drones.

“Private networks like these are a big part of building the connected factories of the future, so British manufacturing can keep pace with the rest of the world,” said Jo Bertram, managing director at Virgin Media O2 Business. “By continuing to invest in smart tech, connectivity and innovation – with an upgrade to 5G in the plans – British Sugar is blazing a trail for the industry.”

About the Author(s)

John S. Forrester

former Managing Editor, Powder & Bulk Solids

John S. Forrester is the former managing editor of Powder & Bulk Solids.

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