Telia has in collaboration with several industrial partners showcased the world’s first remote-controlled High-lift wheel loader using 5G technology at a terminal outside Timrå, Sweden.
The aim of the research project Remote Timber is to examine how 5G can be part of enabling hundreds of timber terminals across Sweden to be manned with remote-controlled wheel loaders in order to develop safer, more productive timber processes and explore its potential as an enabler for automation. Remote-controlled timber loading offers efficiency gains while providing machine operators with a safer and more conducive work environment, eliminating noise and vibrations from machines.
• On November 18, Telia in collaboration with several industrial partners showcased the world’s first remote-controlled High-lift wheel loader using 5G technology
• The demonstration was done at a timber terminal in northern Sweden and is an important step towards remote-controlled machines and safer timber handling
• The demonstration is part of the research project Remote Timber in which Mid Sweden University is collaborating with Telia, SCA, Volvo CE, Biometria and Skogforsk
• The dedicated 5G network used in the demonstration is built on the 3,5 GHz frequency band, providing the capacity, data speeds and low latency needed for industrial applications
Magnus Bergman, head of staff, technology and digitalization at SCA Skog, says: “This is an excellent project where we can assess how we can use 5G technology for remote control and the possibility of working remotely while connected. The project is entirely in line with SCA’s ambition to drive the trend toward more autonomous vehicles and improved operator support. This is also a key component of making forestry even more sustainable. Remote-controlled terminals can improve the work environment for operators, increase accessibility at the terminals and ensure efficient utilization of our machines.”
For this research project, Volvo CE has remodeled and equipped an L180 High-lift wheel loader with connected cameras and sensors, making it possible to control the machine remotely over a 5G network, supplemented by a dedicated and local network that Telia has built at SCA´s terminal. Through Telia´s 5G technology, all data is sent with low latency, which is critical in order to be able to carry out remote control with precision and in a safe manner.
Magnus Leonhardt, Head of Business Development & Innovation at Telia Sweden, says: “This partnership is a great example of how 5G is used in new industrial applications. With the Remote Timber research project, we are together with our partners exploring remote control of a high-lift wheel loader based on a secure and robust digital infrastructure which contributes to a more efficient and sustainable solutions in the forest industry. The high capacity and low latency 5G network is built to support this solution that provides immediate feedback between the machine operator and the machine, which is a prerequisite for being able to safely control machines remotely.”
Tele-operated forestry is expected to deliver improved productivity by allowing one operator to work across multiple – and sometimes isolated – sites around the world. It is also expected to make it both safer, by removing humans from potentially hazardous environments, and more sustainable, through more efficient logistics flows as the loading and unloading of timber can also be done during the night.
Christian Spjutare, Advanced Engineering Program Manager at Volvo CE, says: “We can see that tele-operation has major future potential for our customers to improve their operations. For operations in hazardous environments, the operator can be relocated to a secure location with better working conditions. In cases where operations are conducted in several different locations, one operator can manage several terminals at the same time. The project provides an opportunity to test our remote-control platform in a new application with high precision requirements and to learn how the system needs to be designed to meet industry needs.”
The Remote Timber research project is supported by Telia, Biometria, Mid Sweden University, Volvo Construction Equipment, SCA and Skogforsk. The research project is financed by the participating parties and by VINNOVA’s vehicle strategic research and innovation (FFI) program. The project also maps current legislation and regulations to shed light on the legal preconditions for commercialization.
High data speeds over 5G
The new 5G-network is built on the 3,5 GHz band that Telia acquired in Sweden’s 5G auction early 2021. The frequency band provides more capacity, higher data speeds and lower latency, crucial for industrial services demanding high and secure connectivity for critical assets as remote control and industrial automation. This summer, Telia together with Ericsson set a speed record of 2,2 Gbit/second for Telia´s public 5G-network. The speed record was set in central Stockholm using an iPhone 12 mobile phone.
In May 2020, Telia launched Sweden’s first large-scale public 5G network in Stockholm. Since then, the company has pushed ahead to provide all Swedes access to the network. In partnership with Ericsson, 5G is now being rolled out at a high pace and is already available in 26 cities.