Hamburg Port Authority Tests 5G Technology for Industrial Applications
Tuesday, November 06, 2018 | Comments

The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) in Germany, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia are testing new aspects of the 5G standard using applications in real-world industrial conditions at the port of Hamburg. Covering around 8,000 hectares, the port in January became a testing ground for reviewing technology and its suitability for rollout in an industrial environment.

The field test is being carried out as part of the European Union (EU)-funded 5G-MoNArch project in Hamburg and is set to run for two years. The goal is to establish a basis for defining further aspects of the 5G standard.

Three case studies using real-life applications are demonstrating the new standard’s capabilities. In the first, partners installed sensors on ships belonging to HPA's subsidiary, Flotte Hamburg. These sensors transmit movement and environmental data in real time from across large swathes of the port. In another example, a traffic light was linked to the mobile network and can be operated remotely by the HPA control center to control traffic as it flows through the port. Trucks, for example, are guided quickly and safely around the site.

In the third example, the new standard makes high data volumes available quickly outside of existing networks, transmitting 3D data to an augmented reality application. Smart glasses use the information to show wearers building data related to future or former structures in a real environment. In the future, this technology will help engineers monitor or optimize construction planning directly on site at the port.

The project aims to gain evidence that complex mobile applications with many different requirements can work reliably over one network. To cope with the demands of high data rates or a high volume of sensors, the mobile network in the test environment is split into special virtual networks known as network slices. Each slice supports a specific requirement. The separate virtual networks that can be used for managing the traffic light system or transmitting environmental data. The new architecture is the first of its kind to allow networks to be adapted dynamically and flexibly to the demands of a broad spectrum of applications.

"The test bed has given us a glimpse of the huge potential that 5G and, in particular, network slicing will offer," said Jens Meier, CEO of HPA. "I believe the new standard will form the basis for solving tricky industry challenges and is the last push we need to make a breakthrough in terms of digitalization. I'm proud that the city of Hamburg and the port of Hamburg are among the first to benefit from this technology."

A transmitter at a height of more than 150 meters on Hamburg's TV tower was installed in January. The stability of the mobile signal is monitored and verified by numerous measurement runs on land and the Elbe river. Industrial applications require a telecommunications network that is reliable and highly secure. Equally so, it must be able to support a large spectrum of applications. As the findings from the 5G testing ground have now demonstrated in practice, network slicing is the way forward.

While the focus in Hamburg is on integrating 5G into transportation and infrastructure management systems, a second testing ground in Turin, Italy, is looking at multimedia applications. The Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is funding the 5G MoNArch project as part of phase two of the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP).

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