Support for massive internet of things (IoT) is one of the three primary 5G use cases — the other two are to enhance the mobile broadband and mission critical communications. Ports around the world are implementing trial 5G networks with the goal of enabling fast and high bandwidth communication. Ultimately, they seek to automatize commonplace port activities entirely. Ports in Italy, Germany and China have volunteered as testbeds to try out the new technology in a diverse and dynamic industrial environment.
5G networks are divided into network slices; virtual networks that are customised to specific needs. This partition provides greater flexibility and supports the various use cases found in e.g. ports. Different use cases are being run simultaneously to investigate whether they will function in a single network. Reliability and security are extremely important factors in the industrial sector, which is why 5G is a necessary component to the automatization of port activities. Currently, 5G applications are limited to using virtual reality and live video feeds in operations management. However, once these technologies have developed to an acceptable standard, they pave the way for further autonomy in port operations.
With 5G speed and performance, the port community will be able to work in an even smarter and safer way – Ericsson
According to the previous statements, the following part is dedicated to introduce the most important use case in ports at international level.
Port of Livorno
Ericsson has undertaken a variety of research projects with local partners in Tuscany to trial new technologies in cloud technology, robotics and big data, all underpinned by 5G connectivity. 5G is an ideal platform for standardizing seamless connections in the port, which is why Ericsson is considering implementing a testbed in Port of Livorno.
Port of Livorno has planned a proof of concept to demonstrate automated remote control of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for loading and unloading operations in the port area. The robots are expected to apply cloud technology and distributed computing. Moreover, the dozens of different actors in the port need to share data on common functions. For these purposes, the fast and high bandwidth of 5G is perfect.
Port of Hamburg
Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) is collaborating with Deutsche Telekom and Nokia in implementing a 5G trial network in the port facilities. The trial programme is part of the two-year 5G MoNArch (Mobile Network Architecture) research project. The testbed covers 8.000 hectares of port area, with a base station installed in a 150-meter high television tower. Among other tasks, the network will co-ordinate the area’s traffic lights, process environmental data in real time and use virtual reality applications to manage infrastructures. Horizon 2020 European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation funds the project.
5G offers a level of security, reliability and speed that current mobile networks are unable to match. It provides the HPA with a wholly new set of application options. – Jens Meier, CEO of HPA
Ports in China
China is home to seven of the 10 busiest ports in the world. China Unicom and Huawei jointly released a 5G Edge-Cloud Smart Port Solution, which offers a fully connected wireless network for smart ports. Many large ports are already using the technology in pilot cities.
Employees benefit from the improved network. With the thousands of cameras placed in the port, workers can playback the video feed on mobile devices to inspect their operations. In a traditional network, latencies would fluctuate and playback would stall. With the 5G Cloud-Edge solution, video data is stored locally, resulting in smoother streaming.
The automated port control centre can perform operations such as video security monitoring and real-time data collection through mobile terminals. The solution can also integrate third-party applications, culminating in firewall improvements and an IoT platform.
To sum up, Patrick Waldemar, VP and Head of Technology at Telenor Research, states that it is a matter of years until 5G sensors will be so affordable, durable and available that everything is connected. Losing sensors will no longer be an issue. Thus, shipping companies and other logistics providers will take advantage of the 5G technology shortly. Ports need to jump on board early to avoid losing business.