Improving Ports with Automation and Private 5G

private 5g network for ports

It has become increasingly clear that the shipping industry must adopt technological advancements to prevent future disruptions to operations. From the blockage in the Suez Canal in March of 2021, which caused a six-day halt in the distribution process, to daily shipment delays on ports, there are heavy fines handed out by border control due to growing regulations, often costing more than the shipments themselves. In this article, we will explore how wireless technologies can transform the industry for the better.

Port Challenges

Time spent in ports is very limited, due to the lack of space and high volume of vessels coming and going each day. Although vessels are large and transport almost 90% of the world’s commodities, they must be unloaded as fast as possible, to avoid backlogs of vessels waiting at the port. In today’s commerce-driven climate, and with the sheer volume of vessels at ports, there is an increasing need for smart ports that leverage data and automation.

Need for Automation in Ports

Automation requires a secure, reliable, and efficient wireless connection that can collect large amounts of data. The data is analysed to control and determine patterns within the port, developing data-driven decision-making and predictive analysis that can address challenges in real time before any problems arise.

Ports handle and record extremely high volumes of data including, entry, exit, security checks, verification, customs, immigration, and quarantine. Although mandatory for security, the process takes a very long time. Automation drastically cuts the time required for tasks, making the time needed to process vessels reduced substantially.

Automation, through the implementation of a wireless network, will therefore provide:

  • More control over port emissions, enabling opportunities to reduce carbon footprint
  • Improved scalability: more vessels can be processed, improving profitability for the operators
  • Reduced manual interference and human errors
  • Improved security
  • Improved health and safety for port staff and customers

Private 5G Networks

Private 5G Networks have presented a cost-effective and efficient wireless connection for ports. This private network utilises the same technology that is used for mobile networks, providing a private wireless network that leverages the more secure, scalable, and resilient 5G technology. Many other forms of wireless connectivity pose a concern around the signal’s reliability and resilience, and traditional fibre doesn’t offer the same scalability, security, or flexibility.

Benefits of Private 5G Networks in Ports:

  • Performance: high speed (Peaking at 10 Gbps) and Lower latency (8ms) required for real-time operations and decisions.
  • Security: secure, localised data management with 3GPP carrier-grade, end to end encryption; enables the use of wireless equipment such as video surveillance, sensors, vehicle tracking, access terminals and PPE.
  • Monitoring: network slicing / segregation, meaning traffic can be prioritised for mission-critical processes; performance dashboard with 24/7 remote management
  • Cost effective: there is no need to for the long, expensive process for fibre installation, where extensive groundworks for long cable runs would be required.
  • Easier scalability: 5G supports thousands of devices simultaneously, with the mobile spectrum enabling higher power and range
  • Greater reliability than WiFi


Port automation, using Private 5G Networks, not only speeds up processes at the port – but also has the capability to positively impact the full supply chain. This technology has already improved several other industries, including aviation, maritime, construction, agriculture, and utilities, and is showing that it can do the same for ports and other maritime activities. To get a free estimate for your organisation, please click here.

Originally published at on 1 November 2021.

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