Ericsson and mobile service provider China Unicom are set to provide a 5G smart harbour system at the Port of Qingdao, Shandong, China.

The partnership comes after the completion of successful technical solution verification at the port.

The latest move lays the groundwork for deployments in other ports across the globe.

The field trial, which was carried out by Ericsson and CHU in collaboration with global port machinery manufacturer Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC), found that up to 70% of labour costs can be saved when a harbour uses the 5G automation upgrade.

These savings are estimated based on the project of automation at the Port of Qingdao.

The 5G smart harbour technical solution verification was performed late last year and included an automated ship-to-shore (STS) crane that lifted a container over a 5G connection operated from the control centre.

Ericsson senior vice-president Chris Houghton said: “In the Qingdao 5G smart harbour project, we successfully showcased various 5G network capabilities such as mili-second-level end-to-end latency at Gbps-level speed.

“This 5G smart harbour solution is not only applicable to the Port of Qingdao but can also be replicated with many other harbours and industries.”

“This 5G smart harbour solution is not only applicable to the Port of Qingdao but can also be replicated with many other harbours and industries.”

Data traffic collected from more than 30 high-definition cameras and control data for a programmable logic controller were included in the 5G connection.

As part of the trial, the feasibility and potential of 5G applications for the development of smart harbours were confirmed.

Following this, Ericsson, China Unicom and other partners have agreed to jointly explore commercial 5G networks to automate harbours and modernise traditional harbours.