ZPMC and Partners Promote 5G

Yangshan Port
Yangshan Port

Published Nov 14, 2019 5:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company (ZPMC), Vodafone, China Mobile and Huawei jointly released 5G Smart Port White Paper last month. 

With its low latency, large bandwidth and high reliability, 5G is anticipated to provide a new-generation communication solution for port equipment. 5G is generally seen as the fifth generation cellular network technology that provides broadband access. Its purpose is not solely about making bandwidths larger or speeds faster, 5G will play a role in emerging Internet of Things applications and can be used for many diverse applications with different speed, response time, security and capacity requirements because it can support up to a million devices per square kilometer, while 4G supports only up to 100,000 devices per square kilometer.

The companies believe that improving container transfer efficiency through rubber-tired gantry (RTG) crane efficiency gains is a priority. With large bandwidth capability of 5G, real-time transmission of High Definition videos can be realized, and the low latency capability of 5G can realize remote real-time control based on programmable logic controllers (PLCs). 

Currently, gantry crane operators work in cabs some 30 meters high, and to ensure 24-hour uninterrupted operation, each gantry crane is attended in rotation by three operators, which translates
into hundreds of gantry crane operators per container terminal. With cameras and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) installed, operators can operate remotely from the central control room, and one operator can control three to six gantry cranes while working in a favorable environment, greatly reducing labor costs and improving operational security, states the white paper.

A single gantry crane needs to upload five to 16 channels of surveillance videos, and 1080p videos require a bandwidth of about 30 Mbps. In addition, PLC communications between the central control room and a gantry crane require a network latency of less than 30 ms. In a typical scenario, about 60 gantry cranes are deployed within a one square kilometer area. In this scenario, 5G can provide the high bandwidth and low latency required.

Other technologies, such as optical cable and Wi-Fi have technical, cost, maintenance, and security issues, states the white paper. For example, Wi-Fi anti-interference capability and coverage capability are not enough to meet smart port requirements and cannot support a large number of users.

In China, Huawei and China Mobile have been consolidating partnerships with ZPMC and have provided 5G private networks in Shanghai Yangshan Port and Ningbo Port to verify RTG crane remote control. Yangshan Port was the first to use automated equipment and control systems including automated guided vehicles (AGVs). In this case, automated operation supports the port to have the world's largest container throughput for seven consecutive years.

A range of initiatives aimed at bringing the benefits of 5G to ports are underway in Asia and Europe.