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5G is not the answer, it is an enabler of realising industrial digitisation projects. This was explained by Tamas Boday from Huawei, the company which together with Vodafone provides 5G technology solutions to East West Gate in Hungary. This terminal on the border with Ukraine is scheduled to become operative in Spring 2022.
Boday works for the Chinese telecom provider in Hungary, from where Huawei serves all of Europe with its latest technology advancements. On 7 & 8 December, the Hungarian national will come to Amsterdam, to provide a workshop about various applications at the European Silk Road Summit.
What can Huawei do?
But first, we ask him: what can a company like Huawei do for a terminal like East West Gate? “Oooh, many things”, he laughs. “We create an underlying layer of 5G technology all around the terminal. We will cover all of the areas with a 5G signal, enabling all devices to communicate with each other and with the network. Then we implement various applications on top of that.
“Thus, 5G is not the answer, it is an enabler of realising industrial digitisation projects”, he concludes. The use of 5G technology in terminals is fairly new. In China, several projects have been launched since 2019, but in Europe 5G-operated terminals are still in its infancy shoes. This is not to say that artificial intelligence (AI) is new to the world of terminals.
4 or 5G?
European terminals do not lag behind in the use of AI, said Alain Buyle from Camco Technologies earlier. “Especially intermodal terminals are using it more and more.” Buyle also explained that 5G is not a prerequisite for AI. “4G is still perfect for transmitting data and using fibre cable connections is a safer option since they provide stable communications.”
However, there are certain benefits of 5G that are of particular interest to terminals, explains Boday. “5G not only provides high bandwidths on the downlink part of the communication, but also on the uplink part. Why do we need that in a terminal like East West Gate? Well, we need high definition cameras on the cranes, sending information to the control rooms, where operators see real-time what these cranes are doing. And then we need to send back control signals to the cranes, so they are doing what they are controlled to do.”
East West Gate
The terminal East West Gate in Fenyestlitke is a showpiece when it comes to the latest digitalisation developments, and must be a theme ride for Huawei, which is is having a free haven in Hungary to develop and distribute these technologies. Last week, four Kunz cranes arrived at the site under construction. These cranes are the cherry on the cake of the state-of-the-art facility, and will be fully automated remotely.
“The investor and CEO of this terminal have a vision. It is a complete greenfield project, which was exceptional from the beginning. But it can also be used for brownfield operations. In my opinion, logistics is an efficiency business. The more efficient you are, the higher the business benefits are, and this is exactly what this provides.”
Augmented reality glasses
The East-West Gate is not the only place where the telecom provider is dealing with logistics. In its European Supply Centre, also in Hungary, it deploys some of its latest tools and gadgets. “Here we automised logistics processes on the shop floor: we have automated forklifts, high-lift forklifts, and a few more technologies to optimise operations and better environment and efficiency.”
Boday proudly shows a pair of glasses. “Not just any type of glasses”, he explains. These are augmented reality glasses. They have a 2K HD camera in front, and a display.” A person wearing these glasses in the warehouse can send these images to any person outside the warehouse, and that is where the efficiency gain is made, he says. “Our RND investments are mainly in China. But our manufacturing is done here, in Hungary. Because of this distance, issues need quite some time to be overcome. But with these glasses, we can shorten the time to solve these issues.”
Matter of time
If you ask Boday, it is just a matter of time before this is also widely used in Europe. “In China, they are ahead of us in Europe, but there is an ongoing competition between continents, between the US, Europe and China. This is driven by efficiency.” According to the digital expert, digitisation on its own does not create the benefit, but digitising complete industries is what makes them more competitive, and this has been realised and recognised in China already.
At the European Silk Road Summit, Boday will bring along some of the tools discussed, to showcase how they work and let the audience have a taste of the experience. Are you interested? Have a look at the programme of the European Silk Road Summit or register.
Watch this interview
This article first appeared on www.railfreight.com
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