Telecoms operator Orange Belgium this week announced the introduction of fifth generation internet applications, developed with industrial partners, to the stand-alone 5G network operating in the Port of Antwerp.
The Industry 4.0 Campus network was set up less than a year ago in the port area to connect the port authority and businesses operating in the port using the latest high-speed, low latency internet technology.
5G internet is not yet widely available to the public, but private (and secure) local networks have already been created by businesses, including Brussels Airport.
The applications announced this week include real-time access by chemical inspectors for polymer manufacturer Covestro to technical information and expert advice; tugboats connected to the network to share information about conditions and movements in the port area; secure data connections for sensitive information; and multi-functional 5G smartphones for employees of chemical company BASF to allow the use of imaging and security apps.
“5G from Orange can and will strengthen the competitive position of the port of Antwerp in the much-needed relaunch of the economy,” said Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever.
“With the new federal government in place, I hope that the roll-out of 5G will not be delayed any further.”
As a test, one tugboat has been connected via the network to the control room, to pass on information on conditions in the port via real-time images and radar and sonar data, in an effort to improve safety.
“In the port of Antwerp we are looking at a number of concrete 5G applications, such as smart cameras, drones and autonomous ships and trucks,” said Erwin Verstraelen, chief digital and innovation officer of the port.
“As a company, it is important to learn about this technology now and gradually prepare for its arrival, as the great potential lies in B2B applications. It’s also important to realize that 5G is part of our country’s digital infrastructure and we can’t afford to miss the boat there.”
“We are extremely proud that, together with our partners, we can now present the impressive tangible results achieved on our Industry 4.0 Campus,” said Werner De Laet, Orange Belgium’s chief enterprise and innovation officer.
“The co-innovation process has proven to be a great way to discover the industrial potential and benefits of 5G technology together. This supports the need for the 5G roll-out for industry in Belgium.”