Port harnesses new technologies as £3.4m trial begins

Trading Standards officers inspected goods arriving at the Port of Felixstowe. File picture: ARCHANT

Trading Standards officers inspected goods arriving at the Port of Felixstowe. File picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk port has been selected for a government trial of 5G technology.

The Port of Felixstowe will be the largest UK port to try out the technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve productivity, safety and efficiency of its operations using a 5G Private Network. It will use the technology on its cranes to help maximise their efficiency.

The trial is part of the government’s 5G Trials and Testbeds Programme to drive investment and innovation. 

The £3.4m project includes £1.6m from the government's 5G Create - a competition to support innovators exploring new uses for 5G to improve people’s lives and boost British businesses.

The port - which is owned by Hutchison Ports - will work with Three UK, Cambridge University and Blue Mesh Solutions along with key subcontractors Ericsson and Siemens to test the potential of 5G in two areas.

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One trial will look at remote-controlled cranes via CCTV.

The other will use IoT sensors and Artificial Intelligence to optimise maintenance on Felixstowe’s 31 quay-side and 82 yard cranes.  

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Minister for digital infrastructure Matt Warman said: “We want to unlock 5G’s potential to revolutionise a wide range of UK industries and 5G Ports is just one project the government is backing to achieve this.

“Our ports will be more vital than ever as we forge an ambitious new global trading position for the UK post-Brexit, so I’m eager to see what 5G can do to maximise efficiency at Britain’s biggest and busiest container port in Felixstowe.”

Hutchison Ports UK boss Chris Lewis said they were "delighted" to be part of the 5G Create programme.

"Being the largest UK port to introduce 5G technology will allow the Port of Felixstowe to deploy innovative technologies to boost efficiency and improve safety for our workforce.

"It ties in well with government policy to create a network of Freeports to act as hotbeds for innovation and to act as hubs for global trade.”

The Port of Felixstowe and Hutchison Ports’ Harwich International Port are part of the Freeport East project team which wants to create a major Freeport centred on the two east coast ports. 

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