“Here in Tallinn, on Peterburi tee, we are bringing 5G to life,” Lars Ottoson, Head of Ericsson Supply Site Tallinn, said at the Estonian Entrepreneurship Awards 2020 gala. “In 4G, what we have today, it is more about communicating with people and mobile phones. And 5G will be more about connecting devices like cars, equipment. Our goal is to be the market leader in 5G mobile communications networks, and of course further down the line, when 6G arrives, our aim is for Estonia as a whole to be at the forefront of it,” Ottoson added.
Ericsson, a company with already long traditions in Estonia, is investing to deploy an innovative intelligent automation system at its manufacturing facilities here. Ericsson’s partner ABB (Estonia’s Investor of the Year in 2014) is providing a fully automated flexible robot cell solution for the final assembly of 5G radios. The partnership will enable enhanced connected services, Industrial IoT and artificial intelligence technologies in the future. This is one of the very first large industrial undertakings that enables the 5G smart manufacturing in the next generation connected world.
With the help of partners, among them the Nordic-based telecommunications company Telia, Ericsson has brought automated guided vehicles, Augmented Reality (AR), and a huge number of sensors to life at Ericsson’s manufacturing facility in Tallinn, Estonia, via a dedicated cellular network. The resulting mobile communication is delivering the capacity, customization, and control needed to scale and secure the connected factory, improving manufacturing operations.
The first solution to benefit from the dedicated cellular network is Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) delivering product components from warehouse to the production lines. The AGVs can now communicate with the control system, provide a live stream of data and video, as well as use the dedicated network to open doors. Transporting components is a labor-intensive, costly and repetitive task where AGVs can save time, reduce the risk of damaging components, and cut waste.
The second solution is Augmented Reality (AR) troubleshooting, which is providing an interactive method for the quality control and testing of electronics components. By using AR glasses or terminals, the troubleshooter gets an overlay with all manuals, instructions and collective knowledge of other troubleshooters, allowing them to quickly identify potential problems. Field tests have shown a 50 percent reduction in time spent on troubleshooting circuit boards when using AR.
The third solution enables the Tallinn factory to monitor the environment using mobile sensors to measure moisture, temperature, noise, light, and carbon dioxide. The goal is to provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment while minimizing the risk of production defects. The dedicated cellular network has the capacity to handle thousands of sensors in a factory, allowing them to be relocated as the layout of the factory evolves.
Ericsson has adapted well to Estonian R&D ecosystem and has had a number of projects with the government. For example, they have played an important role in building the world’s smartest electricity grid by developing clever long distant metering solutions to Estonian national grid operators. Ericsson is open for collaboration as they have set up 5G network base stations for open innovation in TalTech university campus and Ülemiste City business campus.
Estonian IT sector attracts investments
Ericcson has been one of the investors in the Estonian IT sector for many years.
In 2019, the Estonian Investment Agency has helped bring foreign direct investments worth 235 million euros to Estonia. As expected, it is the IT sector that attracts most of the investments made in the digital country of Estonia, last year as much as 63% of all foreign direct investments.
According to Kaspar Kork, Acting Director of Estonian Investment Agency, Estonia’s information technology competence is highly valued in the world. Skillful application of information technology opportunities is necessary in various fields, and a large part of foreign investments comes to Estonia precisely because of this need. “Information technology capability is a competitive advantage of the company and the top-level competence found in Estonia enables it to be achieved,” Kork noted.
Estonian Investment Agency has succeeded in convincing Ericsson’s top management to change from a traditional production and service unit to a more strategic research and development center focused unit,“ noted Raido Lember, a member of the award jury and Deputy Director of Business Development at Estonian Investment Agency. Ericsson Eesti currently employs more than 2000 people.
Best Estonian Companies 2020
The Investor of the Year award is part of the Estonian Entrepreneurship Award initiative. The Entrepreneurship Award is Estonia’s highest recognition for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. It is aimed at highlighting the most ambitious companies in Estonia. Awards are given out in six categories. This year’s winners were:
Company of the Year: IT company that has built a third of e-Estonia, Nortal AS
Investor of the Year: 5G network developer Ericsson Eesti AS
Exporter of the Year: IT company Nortal AS
Innovator of the Year: the world’s most advanced manufacturer of ceramic anode-supported solid oxide cells and stacks for power generation, Elcogen AS
Design Applier of the Year: electric wheels producer Ampler Bikes OÜ
Family Enterprise of the Year: one of the developers of Ülemiste City business district in Tallinn, Mainor AS
Whether you seek high-quality production, world-class digitalisation capability or cutting-edge R&D, Estonia is an attractive and scalable location for IT investments.