Mar 16, 2021 - News

John Deere eyes 5G for its factories

A tractor in a John Deere factory. Photo courtesy of John Deere

John Deere is planning on introducing 5G technology into its factories, including in Iowa.

Why it matters: 5G is expected to streamline operations, ranging from automated parts delivery to even how employees move in the assembly line.

  • The company acquired private 5G licenses for five counties in November — including Polk, Black Hawk and Scott counties.

What exactly is 5G? It's super-fast cellular service, designed to enable our ever-expanding Internet of Things, including self-driving cars and virtual reality.

  • A phone on 5G can download a movie in 15 seconds, compared to six minutes on 4G, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • Devices using 5G can also process information more quickly, making things like a drone work more smoothly.

The big picture: At factory-scale, those faster speeds can help existing equipment like cameras, sensors and automated robotics offer real-time feedback.

  • Because 5G is faster than some wired connections, companies can also eliminate ethernet cables — allowing more physical flexibility with their machines and easier connections between them.

John Deere is exploring utilizing 5G in several areas:

  • Using cameras to observe factory workers and make real-time recommendations on better ergonomics.
  • Using virtual reality technology to streamline employee training, rather than going from machine to machine.
  • Using real-time sensors that can detect when machines aren't functioning properly to improve maintenance.

Keep an eye out: The pilot program starts in 2022.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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