Port of Duisburg launches Private 5G Network

  • November 14, 2022
  • William Payne

A 5G pilot has been established at the Port of Duisburg, Europe’s largest inland port. The 5G network, provided by Deutsche Telekom, will be used for semi-automated control of port cranes, as well as a range of advanced logistics applications. The pilot aims 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 in November in the port of Duisburg, which sits on the confluence of the rivers Ruhr and Rhine.

The project partners want to create the technical foundation for semi automated control of mobile cargo handling equipment in an inland port. The project includes the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), Duisburger Hafen AG, startport GmbH, Deutsche Telekom and POLO KNOW-HOW Industrie-Engineering GmbH. The research and development work are coordinated by Professor 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 said.

Deutsche Telekom is equipping the Logport I port site in Duisburg Rheinhausen with its own 5G campus network for the project. It will form the basis for digitising the 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 number of cameras and sensors in the port area. This should make the handling of goods by road, rail and water more transparent and easier to manage.

In addition to the duisport Group, local companies are also forecast to benefit from the construction of the 5G Campus network on the port site. With 5G technology, they can automate their individual processes. For crane operators, this should improve working conditions and make processes more reliable and safer.

Duisburg-based company POLO KNOW-HOW 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 said, “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 start-up innovations. In addition, the campus network at Logport I offers ideal conditions for testing new business models of technology-driven start-ups from our programme.”

Hagen Rickmann, Managing Director of the Business Customer Division at Telekom Deutschland GmbH, said, “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. Digitisation 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.”

“We expect this to attract companies that can try out and apply their 5G logistics solutions here in Duisburg,” said Matthias Börger, Duisburg City Councillor. “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.”