Glanbia uses 5G to boost manufacturing efficiency at Kilkenny plant

Glanbia Ireland’s cheese plant in Ballyragget, County Kilkenny, is to be the first implementation of 5G in a live manufacturing environment in Ireland.

Glanbia Ireland is planning to increase its manufacturing efficiency by installing an indoor 5G network at its largest Irish plant in Kilkenny.

The food business has formed a new strategic partnership with Three Ireland and Ericsson to demonstrate how 5G can be utilised in manufacturing environments, developing further use cases which in time can be applied across a range of sectors.

“It emphasises the importance of networks as an enabler for digital industrial transformation and it will accelerate the trial and adoption of some innovative Industry 4.0 use cases for us”

The 5G network solution will enable faster and more accurate maintenance tasks on the plant floor and will assist in problem solving, providing for richer analysis of plant processes and reducing manual administration.

The Glanbia rollout of 5G represents the increasing digitalisation and automation of Ireland’s manufacturing landscape. It follows the deployment of a 5G mobile private network at the Irish Manufacturing Research facility in Mullingar by Vodafone and Ericsson earlier this year.

Paving the way for Industry 4.0

It is understood the new indoor 5G network will bring greater connectivity and data security, allowing Glanbia to trial augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications, and test how 5G can provide enhanced connectivity solutions for their wider production facilities.

“It’s allowing us to bring to life some of the early learnings from our participation in an EU funded Horizon 2020 5G project,” explained Brian Farrell, engineering manager at Glanbia Ireland.

“It emphasises the importance of networks as an enabler for digital industrial transformation and it will accelerate the trial and adoption of some innovative Industry 4.0 use cases for us.”

From a technical perspective the project will see 5G radio coverage provided by Ericsson’s Radio Dot System utilising Three Ireland’s 5G spectrum. This solution offers customers the indoor 5G coverage needed for bespoke use cases. They enable faster and easier installation in comparison to Wi-Fi, while offering greater performance, security and latency.

“5G offers the biggest ever potential platform for innovation and this exciting strategic partnership between Three Ireland, Ericsson and Glanbia will unlock the real value of Industry 4.0 for Ireland’s manufacturing sector,” said Ericsson Ireland CEO John Griffin.

“From enabling true digital transformation to helping boost productivity and creating operational efficiencies, 5G can provide the foundation for Ireland to revolutionise critical industries and lead the way for future innovation and economic growth.”

The coverage solution will be backhauled to Three Ireland’s state of the art telco cloud 5G core solution where we can separate the data needed for different customers’ IT systems, enabling the swift and secure delivery to the appropriate applications.

“The bespoke opportunities and insights which 5G can provide to organisations and sectors is really exciting to us at Three Ireland, delivering a real step-change from 4G,” said Karl Duffy, head of Enterprise and Public Sector at Three Ireland.

“We are delighted to partner with Glanbia Ireland and Ericsson on this initiative. This is the first indoor 5G network of its kind in Ireland and will deliver real efficiencies for Glanbia. The opportunity is there for companies of all sizes to create a pilot and scale over time. The companies that act now will achieve first mover advantage within their sector which can’t be underestimated.”

Main image at top (from left): Robert Stack, Ericsson; Brian Farrell from Glanbia Ireland Ballyragget; and Karl Duffy, Three Ireland.

By John Kennedy (

Published: 22 July 2021