Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Hamburg port tests 5G technologies

Steve Rogerson
November 13, 2018



The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), Deutsche Telekom and Nokia are testing aspects of the 5G standard using various applications in real-world industrial conditions at the port of Hamburg in Germany.
 
Covering around 8000 hectares, back in January the port became a testing ground for reviewing innovative technology and its suitability for rollout in an industrial environment. The field test is being carried out as part of the EU-funded 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.
 
"This EU project is an amazing opportunity to test out key aspects of the new 5G technology together with our customer HPA and develop it in line with the customer's needs,” said Antje Williams, executive programme manager for 5G at Deutsche Telekom. “Not only are the findings from the project useful for the future standardisation of 5G, but they also enable us to come up with new and innovative solutions for industry."
 
Three case studies using real-life applications demonstrate the reliability of the standard. In the first, partners have 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 has been linked to the mobile network and can be operated remotely by the HPA control centre to control traffic as it flows through the port. Lorries, for example, are guided quickly and safely around the site.
 
In the third example, the 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 relating to future or former structures in a real environment. In future, this technology will help engineers monitor or optimise construction planning directly on site at the port.
 
Experts want evidence that complex mobile applications with many different requirements can work reliably over one single network. Take particularly high data rates or a high volume of sensors, for example. To cope with these demands, the mobile network in the test environment is split into special virtual networks known as network slices. Each slice supports a specific requirement. Separate virtual networks can be used for managing the traffic light system or transmitting environmental data. The architecture is said to be 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 digitalisation. I'm proud that the city of Hamburg and the port of Hamburg are among the first to benefit from this technology."
 
The technological basis for the testing ground is provided by a transmitter installed at a height of over 150 metres on Hamburg's television tower in January 2018. The stability of the mobile signal is monitored and verified by numerous measurement runs on land and the River Elbe.
 
"Ports in general need to run smoothly and incredibly efficiently," said Marc Rouanne, president of mobile networks at Nokia. “At the port of Hamburg, we have demonstrated that 5G can play a big role in this regard. The testing ground is delivering invaluable hands-on experience and data that will help us when implementing future smart port concepts using 5G communication networks and technologies like network slicing.”
 
Industrial applications require a telecommunications network that is particularly 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 demonstrated in practice, network slicing could be the way forward.
 
The participants believe 5G will play a key role in applications emerging from the IoT and Industry 4.0. Both the manufacturing and logistics industries in particular can benefit from 5G mobile communications.
 
The 5G Monarch project aims to implement concepts for 5G mobile communications architecture in practice. Findings from the deployment of 5G network slicing in a real-world test environment are used to review and improve the underlying concepts.
 
While the focus in Hamburg is on integrating 5G into transportation and infrastructure management systems, a second testing ground in Turin is looking at multimedia applications. The Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research & Innovation is funding the Monarch project as part of phase II of the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership.