Britain’s biggest and busiest port, Hutchinson Ports Port of Felixstowe, is also one other the largest in Europe.
Every year it handles over four million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and welcomes approximately two thousand ships, including the largest container vessels that are afloat today.
Reaching a significant milestone, Port of Felixstowe recently became the largest UK port to deploy 5G. Alongside consortium members, Three UK, Blue Mesh Solutions, and the University of Cambridge, a were successful in receiving governmental grant funding.
As a part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS), the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme “looks to harness areas where the UK has a competitive advantage – such as scientific research, engineering talent and our rich variety of technology businesses.”
The programme explores the advantages and disadvantages of deploying 5G technology. This is in conjunction with its three goals:
- To accelerate the deployment of 5G networks whilst ensuring the UK can take early advantage of applications those networks can enable
- To maximise productivity and efficiency
- To create new opportunities for UK businesses at home and abroad, in doing so encouraging inward investment
‘5G Create’ is a competition to support innovators looking to explore new uses of 5G. As a part of the £33.4m project, Port of Felixstore received £1.6m to work with its partners and key subcontractors, Ericsson and Siemens.
The project is set to test 5G’s potential across two uses cases:
- Enabling remote-controlled cranes via the transmission of CCTV, which are conventionally restricted in bandwidth and flexibility
- Deploying Internet of Things sensors and Artificial Intelligence to optimise predictive maintenance cycle of Felixstowe’s 31 quay-side and 82 yard cranes
In harnessing the speed, low-latency and high-capacity of 5G, the project is expected to exemplify how 5G can increase efficiency and productivity. The algorithms should improve the amount of times that cranes are used, as well as reduce costs in crane repairs.
Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister, said: “It’s incredible to see our £200m investment in innovative 5G tech is empowering Britain’s biggest and busiest container port to explore new ways of driving efficiency, improving safety and supporting the UK’s post-Brexit status as a global trading nation.
“5G has huge potential to revolutionise a wide range of UK industries and 5G Ports is just one testbed the government is funding to help achieve this.”
Six quay cranes are being fitted with IoT sensors to better understand the challenges of day-to-day operation. Karen Poulter, Head of Information Services, Port of Felixstowe and 5G Project Lead, said: “Using 5G to transmit the data enables these systems to operate in real-time which could enable ‘in the moment’ safety-critical applications.
“Using the data generated by the IoT sensors and linking it to the actual activity on the crane together with previous maintenance records, Cambridge University is developing an algorithm to predict equipment failure and suggest the optimum time to maintain the equipment.”
The trial is set to aid the government’s delivery of Freeports to act as hotbeds for innovation.
Richard Brooks, Managing Director and CTO of Blue Mesh Solutions, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work with amazing world leading partners and to have the exciting opportunity to create new high-tech knowledge economy jobs for our smart UK workforce.”