Ericsson has partnered with the world’s fourth-largest mobile service provider China Unicom to develop a 5G “smart” harbour at the Port of Qingdao, China.
Announced by the collaborating parties from Ericsson's booth at Mobile World Congress 2019, currently taking place in Barcelona, Spain, the news follows a successful technical solution verification at the Port of Qingdao.
Qingdao is one of the ten busiest ports in the world, handling 19.3 million TEU annually, and has been operating Asia's first fully-automated harbour since 2017.
Dr. Sebastian Saxe and Dr. Phanthian Zuesongdham, Hamburg Port Authority, discuss digital ports in a recent Port Technology technical paper
With the cooperation of machinery manufacturer Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC), Ericsson and China Unicom achieved several “ground-breaking accomplishments” during a six month field trial, which found that 70% of labour costs could be saved by automated harbours implementing a 5G upgrade.
In addition to this, a 5G connection proved able to support the lifting of a container by an automated ship-to-shore (STS) crane operated from a control centre.
The 5G connection tested at the port also had to support data traffic from more than 30 high-definition cameras, as well as control data for a programmable logic controller (PLC).
— Ericsson (@ericsson) February 26, 2019
According to a statement, these operations require millisecond-level latency control signals, in addition to stable, remote and real-time control only deliverable using 5G technologies.
With the feasibility and potential of 5G applications for the development of smart harbours confirmed, Ericsson, China Unicom and other partners have agreed to jointly explore commercial 5G networks and solutions for both automated harbours and the modernization of traditional harbours.
5G technologies for automated terminals will be a key topic of discussion at the Container Terminal Automation Conference 2019
Chris Houghton, Senior Vice President and Head of Market Area North East Asia at Ericsson, commented: “Delivering revenue for the industry is important for 5G business success. Ericsson is glad to partner with China Unicom in developing industrial service opportunities.
“In the Qingdao 5G smart harbour project, we successfully showcased various 5G network capabilities, such as millisecond level end-to-end latency at gbps level speed.
“This 5G smart harbour solution is not only applicable to the Port of Qingdao but can also be replicated with many other harbours and industries.”
Zhang Yong, General Manager of the China Unicom Research Institute, added: “China Unicom is proactively exploring industrial 5G business opportunities.
“We would like to cooperate with major 5G equipment suppliers and leading industrial equipment suppliers to create differentiated value to enterprise customers.
“The Qingdao 5G smart harbour project is a pilot of 5G industrial cooperation and we expect fruitful outcomes both in 5G network solutions and business aspects.”