5G For Mining And Port Operations

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5G For Mining And Port Operations

Most currently 5G deployments are very much focused on delivering enhanced mobile broadband to consumers. But leveraging connectivity to digitize and transform industries is drawing significant interest from the telecom ecosystem given the trends around stagnant ARPU and slowing device upgrades.

Combining high speeds, low latency and massive internet of things presents the opportunity to open up new markets on the back of new technologies and business cases.

Based on trial activity in Europe, mining and port operations are viewed as key verticals where 5G, and LTE, can make a major impact–enabling autonomous operations, improving safety and otherwise boosting efficiency through real-time data capture and analysis.

Mining

Ericsson has teamed up with Canadian systems integrator Ambra Solutions to sell private LTE and 5G networks to mining companies worldwide. Ambra will partner with Ericsson customers, in the shape of “global service providers”, as part of the deal, delivering private networks for the mining sector in concert with telecoms operators.

Ericsson said the deal opens up “exciting new opportunities and revenue streams” for the operator community.

Ambra will repackage Ericsson’s so-called Ericsson Radio System, which covers LTE and 5G NR core, radio and transport functions, alongside consultancy, platform, and security functions. Up to 60 Wi-Fi access points will be replaceable with a single “solution”, said Ericsson.

Ambra will use LTE and 5G to automate ventilation systems, real-time personnel and vehicle tracking, and remote control of machinery like scoop diggers, hauler trucks, drillers, and other mining equipment.

The pair have already completed eight underground and open pit mining deployments in Canada, providing over 90 kilometers of network coverage, they said.

Scania is no beginner when it comes to lean production methods. Already in the 1990s, the Swedish truck manufacturer partnered with Toyota of Japan to later go on and develop its own lean production system, with impressive results.

“In the last 20 years, we have doubled our productivity, increasing production from three trucks per employee to six trucks per employee,” said Björn Windbladh, head of Scania Mining.

By combining information from connected trucks to its lean production know-how, Scania has developed Scania Site Optimization, a service offering designed to help mining operators improve their productivity by helping them identify waste and boost logistical flows.

As connected trucks enable new data-driven value-added services, Scania is gradually transitioning from being a product manufacturer to a provider of connected vehicle services. Scania Site Optimization is one such example, as Scania sells the service for a monthly fee and gets a share of the customer’s productivity gains.

Scania has already signed a couple of customers to Scania Site Optimization, including Indian mining operator VPR Mining.

All vehicles produced by Scania today are connected. Right now, the manufacturer is transitioning wireless connectivity in its trucks from 2G to 3G, while also collaborating with Ericsson on 5G. Out of an installed base of 9,000-10,000 mining vehicles, about 1,000 are connected.

“Our ambition is that all our vehicles will use data and subscribe to reports,” said Björn Windbladh. “We are also offering consultancy and advice services, as well as training and also outsourced logistics.”

Port operations

Tadhg Kenny, the Druid Software senior vice president of business development, recently discussed the state of digital change in the ports industry, with close consideration for the role of private and public cellular networks.

Some context, first. Until the middle of last decade, Rotterdam was the largest port in the world. It has since slipped to 11th, edged out by a rush of six Chinese ports, as well as Singapore, Busan, Hong Kong, and Dubai. Even so, it remains Europe’s preeminent maritime trading hub, and a focal point for the region’s Industry 4.0 assault.

Over 12 million containers are shipped each year across Druid Software’s cellular IoT solution in Rotterdam’s container terminals. The company is engaged with Koning & Hartman on private LTE projects in a number of harbors, including Rotterdam.

The pair have just extended their cooperation across enterprise telecoms, industrial IoT and healthcare solutions. Their work on private networks has typically involved 4G small cells from U.S.-based Airspan.

Druid Software’s Raemis platform, a virtual ePC for management of private networks, takes cellular radios from any vendor and unifies them into a high-quality mobile network that can be managed easily by IT technicians – in much the same way as they manage their existing IT systems. It is the beating heart of the automation control plane in Rotterdam.

Back in March, Nokia and Finnish private LTE provider Ukkoverkot signed a five-year deal to bring connectivity, automation, and intelligence to the Port of Oulu, also in Finland. The project will start with the establishment of a private LTE network, attaching to internet of things (IoT) sensors, on the site.

The private LTE network will provide “services… and solutions” for the port area’s multi-functional environment, said Ukkoverkot. The port company will manage and sell network capacity as-a-service to local enterprises and users of the premises.

The project will extend to cover edge computing, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI). The Port of Oulu, a 15 minute drive from Nokia’s own digital factory in the city, located in central Finland, said it wants to be a “pioneer in port digitalisation”.

Cranes, lifts and other stevedoring machines must be reliably connected to receive and transmit data during cargo operations, and private LTE and 5G networks provide the requisite levels of control, latency and reliability.

Related: Fourth Industrial Revolution 5G

The private LTE network in Oulu will utilise the 2.6 GHz radio band, allocated in the vicinity to the port as part of the deal. Ukkoverkot retains both 2.6 GHz and 450 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum holdings for industrial and public safety networks. The 2.6GHz band will enable 5G services, too.

Nokia is supplying the networking gear and digital automation platform. Its offer has been “tailored” with respect to capacity, usability and coverage.