The fourth phase of Yangshan Port in Shanghai, China started trial operations at around 11:00 a.m. on December 10, 2017. This ‘Smart Giant’ seaport, which has been constructed over the past three years and now offers seven large deep-water berths, becomes the world’s largest automated container terminal.
The systematic trial operations of what has been nicknamed the ‘magic container terminal’ is largely attributed to an industrial wireless network built on Huawei’s first-of-its-kind 5.8 GHz Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technologies. To date, 4.5G LTE technology based on Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards is becoming a key enabler for diverse industries and sectors to accelerate their digital and automation transformation.
AGVs Efficiently Operate for World’s Largest Automated Port
“You will not find people working in the container terminal area. Everything becomes automated. For example, quayside container cranes are no longer driven by operators; instead, they can be operated remotely from the background system. Container trucks are not needed, either. They are replaced by Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) which move freely to load, unload, and transport cargos,” said a worker who explains why this is referred to as the ‘magic container terminal.’
The expectation is that there will be 130 AGVs, 26 bridge cranes, and 120 rail-mounted gantry cranes to automate Yangshan Port. The devices which were previously operated manually will be replaced by smart devices. These smart facilities will automatically perform production tasks as instructed by the system. Workers will remotely control bridge cranes, rail-mounted gantry cranes, and AGVs. As a result, production operations environments will be improved, and the overall operational efficiency will be greatly increased as well.
AGVs function as a horizontal transportation system which is critical for the automation services at the port. Subsequently, AGVs have received wide attention from the industry. AGVs support unmanned driving, automatic navigation, path optimization, and proactive fault prevention; additionally, AGVs are also designed with self-fault diagnosis and self-power monitoring functionalities. Through wireless communication equipment and an automatic dispatching system, AGVs can move freely with precise positioning to accurately and systematically complete the instructions delivered from the ‘brain’ of the system.
What kind of network streamlines the ‘commanding’ of all these operations?
The Industry’s First-of-the-Kind 5.8 GHz LTE Builds a Reliable Network for AGVs
The AGV system poses the following stringent requirements on the wireless communication network:
• The driving control signals for AGVs require stable transmission. As such, the transmission latency of the entire network must not exceed 50 milliseconds; otherwise, the system considers the AGV data to be unhealthy, which results in a low vehicle operating efficiency.
• To accelerate loading and unloading of cargos, each berth allows concurrent access of a maximum of 60 AGVs.
At the very beginning, Yangshan Port implemented a traditional industrial wireless network to transmit AGV control signals. This conventional network performed poorly, especially for network coverage, mobility, and multi-AGV access capabilities; therefore, it failed to stably transmit AGV control signals. As a result, the entire set of AGV automatic driving systems could not meet the requirements for commercial use.
The Yangshan Port management also found other traditional wireless solutions to be unfeasible. Starting from the beginning of 2017, port decision-makers were impressed by Huawei’s industry-leading 5.8 GHz LTE wireless technology, eLTE-U. Using the most-advanced 4.5G LTE technology, Huawei’s eLTE-U provides reliable LTE wireless connections on the 5.8 GHz unlicensed band. eLTE-U achieves a perfect combination of Wi-Fi liked easy deployment with additional high-performance LTE functionalities.
• Strong security: eLTE-U provides the most advanced anti-interference capabilities and supports Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to ensure plaintext-free transmission. Consequently, control signals cannot be maliciously hacked, ensuring stable wireless connections for AGV driving control signals on the 5.8 GHz unlicensed band.
• Large capacity: eLTE-U uses multiple technologies such as advanced wireless scheduling algorithms and high-gain directional antennas. As such, eLTE-U ensures low latency for AGV control signals even when a single berth has a high-density access of 60 AGVs.
• Convenient deployment: The inter-site distance of 250 meters ensures that all base stations are installed to the port lighthouse, without the need of additional infrastructure. This implementation minimizes port reconstruction costs.
After nearly one year of verification, eLTE-U is finally put into trial operations in the fourth phase of Yangshan Port. This provides the most-reliable wireless network for the port facilities to move cargo going from and to destinations worldwide.
4.5G Wireless Enables Industry Digitalization
Now, Yangshan Port efficiently operates as the world’s largest automated container terminal that has the highest level of automation around the globe. Completion of the fourth phase marks a milestone for upgrading operational paradigms and technology usage in China’s port sector. Yangshan Port will help consolidate Shanghai Port’s standing as the world’s largest cargo-handling port and further support Shanghai’s efforts to expand as the world’s top best-in-class shipping center.
The 5.8 GHz LTE network technology used at Yangshan Port represents another achievement in which Huawei has partnered to contribute its advanced 4.5G wireless technology to specific industries. As network capabilities are upgraded from supporting mobile Internet to empowering the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), 4.5G LTE technology based on 3GPP standards is also gaining in popularity among diverse industries and sectors.
Looking ahead towards 5G evolution, Huawei will continue to work with more industry-leading partners specializing in port machinery, electric power automation, industrial manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, and additional sectors. Huawei’s state-of-the-art 4.5G LTE is becoming a better choice for industry IoT networks to accelerate digital transformation across industries and sectors.