The construction of a 5G test field has started at the Port of Duisburg. The semi-automated control of port cranes is to be tested via mobile communications technology.
The aim of the project is to increase the capacity of container handling operations. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia selected the project for funding via the 5G.NRW competition and will provide around one million euros over the next two years. The project was launched at a public kick-off event on November 3rd in the port of Duisburg, Europe’s largest inland port.
So far, semi-automated control of mobile cargo handling equipment in inland ports has not been possible. The project partners want to create the technical foundation for this in Duisburg for the first time. The University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), Duisburger Hafen AG (duisport), startport GmbH, Deutsche Telekom and POLO KNOW-HOW Industrie-Engineering GmbH are involved. The research and development work are coordinated by Prof. Andreas Stöhr from the UDE’s engineering department. “We want to develop and test innovative logistics solutions based on 5G in Duisburg on parts of Europe’s largest inland port,” he says.
Deutsche Telekom is equipping the Logport I port site in Duisburg Rheinhausen with its own 5G campus network for the project. Such a campus network is an exclusive, locally limited mobile network that can be tailored to individual technical requirements. It forms the basis for digitizing the necessary control units. The container cranes handle the main part of the cargo handling. Semi-automation with the help of 5G should increase the capacity of the cranes. This would increase container turnover without the port needing additional floorspace. There are also plans to use 5G technology to link a large number of cameras and sensors in the port area. This should make the handling of goods by road, rail and water even more transparent and therefore easier to manage.
Optimized logistics processes
In addition to the duisport Group, local companies will also benefit from the construction of the 5G Campus network on the port site. Thanks to 5G technology, they can automate and further optimize their individual processes. For crane operators, this not only improves conditions at work, but at the same time the new generation of mobile communications makes processes more reliable and safer. Moreover, 5G improves continuity in the handling process.
As an innovation partner from the crane industry, the Duisburg-based company POLO KNOW-HOW is involved in the project. Its managing director Rüdiger Tornow sees further growth opportunities and new business fields for his company through 5G technology: “As part of this project, we want to prove that 5G is the right answer to the challenges posed by the gap that has existed to date in the communication infrastructure of the terminals. This opens up the possibility for our company to provide current and future technological innovations for all devices involved in port handling in a performant, reliable and secure manner.”
Alexander Garbar, Head of Corporate Development at duisport and Managing Director of startport GmbH explains, “5G technology enables the testing of new innovations in intermodal logistics. The results of the project can become a blueprint for other terminals in Duisburg, but also for inland terminals throughout Germany as well as internationally. I am particularly pleased about the close link to our activities at startport. For the implementation of the automation, we are also relying on startup innovations. In addition, the campus network at logport I offers ideal conditions for testing new business models of technology-driven startups from our program.”
Hagen Rickmann, Managing Director of the Business Customer Division at Telekom Deutschland GmbH, emphasizes, “Telekom not only has the opportunity to build and operate the infrastructure here in Duisburg. With this project, we will explore and develop new fields of application for 5G together with our partners. Digitization is playing an increasingly important role especially in logistics processes. 5G is an important driver for this. Both the Port of Duisburg and the companies operating there will benefit from this project.”
The city of Duisburg supports the project and expects this lighthouse project to cause a real stir in the port logistics sector. “We expect this to attract companies that can try out and apply their 5G logistics solutions here in Duisburg,” said Matthias Börger, Duisburg City Councilor. “The city of Duisburg will become a driving force and role model for digital transformation in Duisburg and the region, perfectly complementing our city’s smart city strategy.”