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How do harbor ecosystems benefit from private wireless networks?

Globally, harbor environments face a growing demand for fast, secure connectivity that existing networks are unable to deliver. At Etteplan, we believe that the best solution is to deploy a private network based on mobile technology. These networks offer many operational and business benefits – and enable smart ports with autonomous and highly automated operations.

In the past, harbors were just transport hubs. Now they have also become massive data hubs for a complete business ecosystem. Data is generated by cranes, containers, ships, surveillance and automation systems, terminal trucks, trailers, people, smartphones and tablets, storage areas – almost all operations in the harbor area.

This evolution is a result of the digitalization of everything related to logistics. Harbors make no exception. They are increasingly data-intensive, and it is getting increasingly hard to solve complex data communications requirements. Harbors are challenging environments for building and maintaining networks due to their broad geographical scale and signal-blocking container stacks.

“There is a growing demand for fleet management of freight handling machinery, and remote condition monitoring. A whole new dimension is data communications to support autonomous vehicles and highly automated equipment. This requires accurate real-time positioning, and these days machine learning tends to be a part of the solution,” says Etteplan’s Technology Director Jaakko Ala-Paavola.

Private networks address all demands at once

Networks in modern harbor environments have to fulfill several strict requirements: they must provide extensive coverage, massive data capacity and scalability, minimal latency, absolute availability, excellent security, and secure remote access. They also have to support mobility and positioning. Moreover, the network has to be fast to deploy and easy to manage.

“WiFi is out of the question, and it would be costly to rely on public mobile networks. A private network based on mobile technology addresses all current and future demands in a cost-efficient manner. It empowers the creation of a genuinely smart port environment,” Jaakko Ala-Paavola says.

12 benefits of private networks in harbor ecosystems

  1. Excellent availability and reliability
  2. High security, including remote access
  3. Extreme capacity and scalability
  4. Extensive coverage
  5. Low latency
  6. Unlimited mobility
  7. Accurate positioning of vehicles and equipment
  8. Ease of management, fast deployment
  9. Ability to create ecosystem networks
  10. Network consolidation, including audio
  11. Cost-efficiency and better operational performance
  12. Improved safety of people and assets

Audio communications and a shared ecosystem network

Currently, harbor areas have several overlapping communications networks. Managing, operating, and upgrading them tends to be a burden. A private network enables simplifying and consolidating them into a single network, including audio communications traditionally based on walkie-talkies.

“Lately, we have been working with group audio calls over private networks that offer much better options than walkie talkies. Private networks provide an unlimited number of channels, and devices may simultaneously connect to multiple audio call groups. People connected to WiFi at the office can participate in group calls that field personnel access directly over the private wireless network,” Jaakko Ala-Paavola says.

Typically, a harbor is an ecosystem with many businesses, such as logistics operators, freight forwarders and manufacturers of cargo handling equipment. It is only natural to use a private network as a platform for a shared ecosystem network. A harbor operator acquiring a private network can commercialize the investment and become a micro-level telecom operator that sells access to other companies in the area.

“Thanks to mobile technology, a private network can be sliced into isolated parts, and its owner can distribute SIM cards to give secure network access. Managing and billing is straightforward compared to WiFi, not to mention the ease of building high-quality coverage. The simplicity of implementing access management has emerged as a powerful advantage of private networks in our recent customer discussions,” Ala-Paavola says.

Etteplan designs and delivers private networks and takes care of all critical systems and application integrations. We have several customer cases up and running, and pilots underway to explore various ways to utilize the technology in logistics, manufacturing, mining, and other industries. Etteplan has a long history of integrating wireless network solutions in demanding environments for our customers’ benefit.

Do you want to know more about private networks? Download our whitepaper!

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Private Networks - the new business driver

Jaakko Ala-Paavola

Jaakko Ala-Paavola

Technology Director Solutions & Technologies Software & Embedded Solutions
+358 447 552 936
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