An inspiring journey with Port of Zeebrugge

The Journey to the Future: the Possibilities of 5G

In 2019, the Port of Zeebrugge invested in a large-scale private 5G-network. Driven by a clear strategic vision, the port authorities decided to use this 5G technology to accelerate automation and improve productivity at the port. Port of Zeebrugge is the first Belgian port to invest in a 5G network. Citymesh invited them to travel to Finland. On this inspiring journey, they explored several practical 5G use-cases at the Port of Oulu.

A port with similar ambitions

"Visiting the Port of Oulu was a logical choice," says Joeri Tranchet, managing director of 5G Services at Citymesh. “It's a smaller-scale port compared to the Port of Zeebrugge. There is also a difference in the way they manage the port. However, they are comparable in many areas. Both ports handle freight traffic, forest products and liquid bulk. And just like the Port of Zeebrugge, Oulu chooses to innovate every step of the way."

A year ago, the Port of Oulu installed a 5G-ready network and a digital twin of the port. This digital twin is a virtual model of the port. On this model, the nautical service receives a complete overview of the port, the locks and the docks. Sensors are placed in different sectors of the port and these sensors gather data. This data is sent to the digital twin via the 5G-ready network. The data is mapped out on the digital twin and provides the Harbourmaster's office with a real-time overview of the port.

The 5G network of Oulu

During our visit, the Port of Oulu elucidated their current and future projects. A long-term vision is critical for these projects and it emphasizes the key role of 5G. This crystal-clear vision is essential: it displays the big difference 5G can make for management as well as the harbour community.

The port of Oulu has three goals they want to reach with 5G: better sustainability, safety and efficiency.

  1. First of all, the port of Oulu wants to be more sustainable. To facilitate this, they use their 5G network for monitoring. They track their energy production and usage on the digital twin. They monitor if production and usage are balanced. This allows them to have more control over their energy consumption.
  2. The second objective of the Port of Oulu is safety. Constructions on the harbour site are ever-present. With mobile cameras, the port captain can monitor the construction process in real-time. In case of emergency, first responders can intervene quickly and with correct information about the accident because of the camera footage.
  1. By improving the communication options at the port, it becomes more efficient. The port can locate the ships and communicate with them sooner because of 5G. They can exchange information before the ship arrives, which makes the processing of cargo a smooth experience.

The journey goes on

These three objectives are top of mind for many ports, including Port of Zeebrugge. Port of Zeebrugge is the first Belgian port to invest in a 5G network. In 2020, they want to reach the following objectives using 5G technology.

First of all, they want to create a digital twin of the port. This would also include using solutions such as push-to-talk and push-to-video. Second of all, there's "Green Port", a project which will measure the air quality at the port. Finally, the port will participate with the "Safety Drone" project of Citymesh. The latter project increases safety in the port area via automated drones that use the 5G-ready network. The drones provide a real-time overview of incidents at the port area so care providers can intervene faster and with more accurate information.

Port of Zeebrugge is the facilitator of the private 5G-ready network. It provides this network through slicing. This way, the port community always has a high-performing and reliable connection, which is perfect for mission-critical communication. The community can utilize this private 5G-ready network to develop their applications.

Port of Zeebrugge looks back with satisfaction on the inspiring journey with Citymesh to Finland. At present, the port authorities are working hard to achieve the objectives for 2020, in collaboration with Citymesh.

(source picture: Port of Oulu)