At a time when a lot of focus is on U.S.-based wireless suppliers, the Swedish vendor Ericsson announced its new smart factory in Lewisville, Texas, just manufactured its first product.
The first base stations to come out of the factory are for 5G millimeter wave, and they’re called the Street Macro base station. Geared for Ericsson's U.S.-based customers, the base stations are designed to house radio access components in a lightweight enclosure for easier siting in complex city environments.
It’s not yet fully operational, but Ericsson said the factory will be one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the industry by later this year. 5G connectivity inside the factory will enable things like automated warehousing, connected logistics, automated assembly, packing, product handling and autonomous carts.
“We’re excited to produce advanced 5G radio products for our U.S. customers, to meet the demand for next-generation 5G networks across the country,” said Erik Simonsson, head of the USA 5G Smart Factory, in a statement. “It’s also exciting to use our own 5G products in the factory for wireless connectivity to increase production efficiency. With the first 5G base stations now rolling off the production line, we are on target this year to have the most fully automated, sustainable 5G smart factory in the U.S.”
Ericsson announced last year that it was going to operate the factory in the U.S., but it didn’t at the time say exactly where it would be located. Ericsson initially will employ about 100 people at the facility.
Ericsson has said it wants to locate more manufacturing operations closer to its customers in order to mitigate potential risks or regional disruptions and reduce dependence on one supply site or vendor.
The company is participating in a hearing today on 5G Supply Chain Security before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, where Nokia and Intel are also part of the program.
In general, all active “intelligent” electronics, such as digital semiconductors, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), for the Ericsson Radio System are predominantly sourced from U.S. companies, with a minor part from Japanese, Korean and European companies, according to Ericsson’s testimony.
The United States is Ericsson’s largest market and it now has more than 7,000 employees working in the U.S. Its North American headquarters is in Plano, Texas.