Orange corrals industrial players around private standalone 5G in Port of Antwerp
Orange has brought in a first wave of industrial companies into its new 5G-geared Industry 4.0 campus in Antwerp, in Belgium. Those to join are the Port of Antwerp, chemical company Borealis, and polymer manufacturer Covestro.
The quartet will play (“co-innovate”) with real-life industrial applications that make use of the massive machine-type (mMTC) and incoming ultra-reliable low-latency (URLLC) strands of the new 5G standard.
Logistics operator Katoen Natie has said it will join in a second wave of partners. The group will focus in the main part on port automation and analytics.
The 5G test network is a private set-up, which will afford the partners “tailor-made connectivity” and “guaranteed service quality” for their industrial use cases. These include wireless manufacturing and real-time automation, said Orange.
The test hub, opened in late 2019, is being managed by Orange Belgium. It is billed as Belgium’s “first 5G stand-alone architecture network”. It involves a separate 5G radio and core network for the region in and around Antwerp, rather than relying on existing LTE infrastructure.
Orange said the new facility will enable “network slicing, very low latency, and massive IoT” for “stakeholders to enjoy unmatched performance, reliability and security.” Consultancy Deloitte is also involved, in an advisory capacity, around “shaping and realizing the business potential” of the facility.
In particular, efforts will focus on the port area in Antwerp, including for connected tugboats to broadcast high-definition mobile radar images from remote-controlled embedded cameras back to the control room on shore.
As well, field operators will receive rich technical data in real time from embedded sensors about port equipment. A live digital twin of port-side infrastructure will help with operational and maintenance decisions. The transfer of images from the field back to the control centre will also help with remote assistance and worker safety.
Erwin Verstraelen, chief digital information and innovation officer at the Port of Antwerp, said: “Sensors, smart cameras, remote-controlled ships, autonomous vehicles and drones are all innovative technologies with business potential for the wider port area. What they all have in common is their need for reliable network connectivity: today 4G, tomorrow 5G.
“Since 5G is not 4G plus one, we need to learn in a relevant context. Therefore, the Port of Antwerp welcomes the consortium to leverage our port as an innovation platform where relevant 5G use cases can be tested. This will guarantee fast deployment once regular 5G is available.”
Werner De Laet, chief enterprise officer at Orange Belgium, said: “We are thrilled with the response we have received from industrial partners within the Port of Antwerp. Now this 5G industrial ecosystem is up and running, we will share its progress with the public by the end of June. As such, even if regulatory and legal changes remain necessary, Orange Belgium will continue to play its role of bold challenger on the business market.”
Tim Paridaens, IoT leader at Deloitte in Belgium said: “5G’s new business standards will pave the way for a whole host of new applications, allowing for industrial-scale IoT networks in factories, warehouses, ports, and more. This unique initiative will provide a real-world test bed, prove the value potential for business and steer technical and business decision-making towards a connected, digital and 5G-enabled future.”