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Nokia, ABB and Kalmar conduct trial with low-latency 5G technology

Nokia, ABB and Kalmar, part of Cargotec, have announced that they successfully conducted industrial trials that leverage the low latency capabilities of 5G to support time-critical applications and enhance protection and efficiency in smart electricity grid and harbour automation

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The trials, conducted as part of the Wireless for Verticals (WIVE) research project, "represent one of the first real-world applications of time-critical 5G applications on electricity grid and harbor automation," it is stated.


Low latency describes a computer network that is optimised to process a very high volume of data messages with minimal delay. These networks are designed to support operations that require near real-time access to rapidly changing data. In essence, automated decision-taking becomes much faster.


URLLC (ultra-reliable low latency communications) has been identified as one of the three main usage scenarios for 5G due to its ability to transmit data, within a few milliseconds or less, with high reliability. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has standardised the first version of URLLC solutions as part of the Rel-15 New Radio (NR) work.


In the first trial, Nokia and ABB demonstrated how URLLC technology can be applied to protection applications in MV distribution networks. It is of the utmost importance that severe faults are cleared immediately to keep the distribution network running, guaranteeing the safety of personnel and avoiding damage to equipment. The trial confirmed that 5G/URLLC fulfils latency requirements set by protection applications.


In the second trial, Nokia and Kalmar successfully demonstrated the ability of URLLC technology to advance container yard automation. Reliable and low-latency messages are required, for example, in safety related messages.


"Managing power distribution networks with an increasing amount of distributed energy resources and an increasing need of flexibility requires advanced technology for protection, control and monitoring," said Petri Hovila, programme manager at ABB. "The 5G URLLC technology provides an affordable communication platform for deployment of these advanced technologies. The results of the WIVE project are encouraging for future utility-scale implementation of 5G."

Pekka Yli-Paunu, Kalmar’s Automation Research Director, said: "Network slicing in 5G networks brings a higher level of predictability and control for our safety-related applications. 5G connections should work at the same level of reliability, latency, and bandwidth as cables and its management should be simple enough."


Mikko Uusitalo, Head of Wireless Advanced Technologies Research at Nokia, said: "Industry collaboration is essential in fostering innovation around 5G and for enabling different industries to take full advantage of the promises of 5G, especially the low latency combined with high reliability. The WIVE project has provided us with greater insight into the requirements and opportunities for experimentation to test our solutions. In this project, Nokia created concepts of how to make 5G URLLC possible and implemented some of these technologies as a prototype that has been tested. It is great to see the solutions moving towards reality."


The WIVE project is co-funded by Business Finland and involves several industry research units and academic partners such as Nokia, Teleste, Telia, ABB, Kalmar, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), Digita, regulator FICORA, key Finnish universities as well as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.


Tomi Sarajisto, Research Manager from Telia Company’s emerging businesses unit Division X said: "Within the WIVE project we are working with participating companies to accelerate the industrial revolution in Finland. Telia has explored new areas where 5G solutions will most likely produce breakthroughs in introducing new, more effective processes. In the trials we studied how lightning-fast 5G will advance electricity grid infrastructure protection and harbour automation."


Raimo Kantola, Professor at Aalto University Department of Communications and Networking, said: "Aalto University has been studying opportunities of 5G technologies in smart grids. A particular focus has been on protection and fault location applications and in packet core performance. We are thrilled about the economic potential that 5G technologies bring to the industrial internet, where low latency and reliable communications are key to elements like safety and automation, remote control of moving machines and distributed green power generation and storage."

The 5G trial in the Port of Hamburg is said to be progressing well
The 5G trial in the Port of Hamburg is said to be progressing well

Seppo Horsmanheimo, Principal Scientist at VTT, said: "VTT has examined URLLC requirements for different vertical use cases, and utilized 5G Test Network Finland testbed facilities to both implement and validate different URLLC solutions. Within the project, VTT has collaborated with WIVE partners to build a latency measurement setup to test and develop communication-critical components already in their prototyping stage for grid protection and container yard automation."


Mobile 5G networks with slicing for specific tasks will becoming increasing important for ports. Nokia is also involved in a port community project in Hamburg, together with Hamburg Port Authority and Deutsche Telekom, as part of the EU MoNArch project. The entire 8000-ha port area is covered by a transmitter installed at a height of over 150m on the city’s television tower.

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