The Port of Felixstowe is to deploy a 5G private network as part of a UK government trial to drive investment in 5G and support the development of new use cases and commercial deployment.
The project will test the potential of 5G across two use cases: enabling remote-controlled cranes via the transmission of CCTV and deploying Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimise the predicative maintenance cycle of Felixstowe’s 31 quay-side and 82 yard cranes.
Using a network installed by Three UK, the port, which is run by Hutchison Ports, has been selected as part of the government’s 5G Trials and Testbeds Programme.
Matt Warman, minister for digital infrastructure said: “We want to unlock 5G’s potential to revolutionise a wide range of UK industries and 5G Ports is just one project the government is backing to achieve this.
“Our ports will be more vital than ever as we forge an ambitious new global trading position for the UK post-Brexit, so I’m eager to see what 5G can do to maximise efficiency at Britain’s biggest and busiest container port in Felixstowe.”
Chris Lewis, CEO of Hutchison Ports UK, added: “Being the largest UK port to introduce 5G technology will allow the Port of Felixstowe to deploy innovative technologies to boost efficiency and improve safety for our workforce.
“It ties in well with Government policy to create a network of Freeports to act as hotbeds for innovation and to act as hubs for global trade.”
The project is a collaboration between Three UK, Cambridge University and Blue Mesh Solutions, along with key subcontractors Ericsson and Siemens.
It is hoped that by harnessing the speed, low-latency and high-capacity of 5G, the project will demonstrate the productivity and efficiency gains of such technology, whilst reducing unplanned outage.
Dr Ajith Parlikad, reader in asset management at Cambridge University, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore how we can bring together the advances in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 5G, and advanced machine learning and AI to radically transform the way in which assets are managed and maintained in a complex industrial environment.”
The Port of Felixstowe, which is part of a joint bid with Hutchison Ports’ Harwich International Port to create an East coast Freeport, hopes that the 5G trial will meet the government’s objective for Freeports to act as “hotbeds for innovation”.