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The Port of Tyne is advancing its ambition to become a world-class ‘smart port’ after partnering with BT to install a new 5G Private Network and other cutting-edge surveillance and smart technology.

The arrival of 5G means the Port and its customers can take full advantage of advanced technology, including robotics and autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Building upon the port’s in-house innovation capability – the 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub – the Port of Tyne is implementing a new hybrid fibre, 4G and 5G Private Network to build a future-proofed digital technology infrastructure.

Once live later this year, the new Private Network infrastructure will provide fast and low latency connectivity across the port’s entire estate, opening up the potential for the development and implementation of both established and emerging technology.

BT has been selected as technology partner and will use Ericsson equipment to complete the installation. It follows a multi-million-pound new partnership announced recently by the technology and telecoms firms to provide commercial 5G Private Networks for the UK market – the first agreement of its kind in the country.

Digital transformation is at the heart of the Port’s Tyne 2050 strategic plan. Real-time 5G connectivity means commercial information can be captured to enable data led decision making to drive efficiencies across the business, benefiting customers and the port’s own operations.

The Port of Tyne’s technology and innovation team has demonstrated a series of outstanding initial and potential use cases. Two of these are recommended for immediate use – quayside operational optimisation programme and OCR container tracking – with scope to expand 5G coverage for future use cases in years to come.  As part of the Tyne 2050 strategy, the Port is creating a clean energy test bed and will work with entrepreneurs wanting access to a 5G infrastructure to validate innovations and solutions to benefit the wider UK logistics sector.

The Port’s 200 acre Clean Energy Park was selected for its 5G base as it will help revolutionise the operations in support of the UK’s number green growth industry, offshore renewable power generation.  Equinor will harness this enhanced capability as they operate and maintain the largest offshore wind farm at Dogger Bank from their Port base.

The operational optimisation programme and OCR container tracking, both of which will significantly enhance supply chain efficiency for clients, involve the installation of black box monitoring devices on cranes and other materials handling (MH) equipment to record usage patterns and enable a detailed performance analysis for continuous improvement programmes. The OCR container tracking application will inspect the condition of containers and monitor entry and exit to the port.

Matt Beeton, CEO of the Port of Tyne said, “5G is an enabler and offers us huge potential to implement world-class technology applications and drive real progress in the port and maritime sectors. We already have a range of use case scenarios developed through the Innovation Hub and are ready to collaborate with technology companies to validate these exciting new solutions.”

Ashish Gupta, MD for corporate and public sector, at BT said:We are delighted to be providing the Port of Tyne with a hybrid 4G and 5G Private Network and associated surveillance and smart technology, including IoT, that will make a huge difference for the port and its customers.

The secure network we have installed with Ericsson, along with our fixed fibre infrastructure, will provide the foundation to revolutionise many operations across the site – including automating processes and creating efficiencies. By leveraging the high bandwidth, low latency networks we can use surveillance cameras, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to check for damage to containers for example. We can also use IoT sensors to deliver benefits in the use of heavy plant and machinery.”

Private Networks are wireless solutions that provide secure indoor and outdoor 5G cellular coverage, making them suitable for a range of uses – particularly in environments such as ports and other large sites where security and ultra-low latency connectivity are important.

New innovative applications and IoT capabilities can be enabled through a 5G Private Network to improve productivity, optimise operations and drive cost savings, such as asset tracking, predictive maintenance, connected sensors, real-time data processing, automation and robotics.

Eight key benefits of 5G at the Port of Tyne

Key benefits of implementing 5G at the Port of Tyne include providing:

  • A connectivity platform upon which other innovative technology can be built for managing remote operations and reducing associated fossil fuel consumption;
  • Supercharged, low latency wireless technology – for faster data processing and responsiveness for support for autonomous or remote working;
  • Greater load capacity with the potential to connect thousands of devices simultaneously in a small area, e.g. using smart meters and IoT sensors to monitor conditions and identify inefficient processes which can be immediately addressed;
  • Potential for offering new, innovative services and business orientated use cases, which will attract customers seeking leading edge technology solutions including AI applications and autonomous vehicles;
  • A 5G enabled clean energy testbed to attract technology developers and innovators, helping them bring new products to market;
  • Reduced need for expensive ground works and ducting by offering wireless connectivity across the estate;
  • Lower emissions and energy consumption – 5G processes more data bits per kilowatt of energy than previous generations of wireless technology;
  • Improved business decision making by extracting more data in real time from plant and machinery to identify efficiency savings, reduce idling time and cut unnecessary mileage.
Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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