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  1. Port automation
  2. 5G technology at ports

Increasing the efficiency of port operations

5G technology at ports

Smart and robust technologies: 5G technology at ports

ifm, known for decades for robust sensor and control technology for extreme environments, provides smart port solutions.

More and more container ports around the world are investing in automation, flexible connectivity and software solutions to stay competitive and increase container throughput, reliability and efficiency.

In the course of the modernisation and new construction of port terminals, port operators decided to use modern camera technology from ifm for monitoring instead of error-prone laser scanners. They are installed on eventually up to 1,000 autonomous container transport vehicles (AGVs) and represent, in combination with robust control technology, the cornerstone for high productivity and constant container throughput.

A smart container port depends on high-performance data and voice communication in all areas. Here, in the area of wireless transmission, there is no real alternative to the latest generation of mobile communications - the 5G technology. 5G technology service providers offer a wide range of 5G network variants tailored to different applications and scenarios. More autonomous vehicles require continuous monitoring, and service and order management in real time. Robust edge gateways from ifm "From the Sensor to the Cloud" in combination with 5G technology from 5G service providers offer a finely scalable solution as private, public or hybrid infrastructure to make the combination of big data with artificial intelligence a reality. 

Which advantages will a smart port have?

There are many challenges which port operators face in daily operations. Smart port technology can help to solve the following:

Challenges in the port / shipping industry

Source: Novis; COREALIS; EMSA McKinsey, Arthur D. Little, Ericsson


  • Any crane or machine breakdown causing downtime is very costly for the port
  • Increased focus on control of environment due to the recent major port accidents
  • The majority of equipment monitoring today is done on-site by an operator, resulting in only limited data on condition


  • 6% of accidents in ports in the last 5 years were due to poor tool maintenance
  • 11% of all accidents in container terminals in the past 5 years were due to fires, most caused by equipment damage
  • 25% of the cost of equipment damage is due to inadequate or incorrect maintenance


  • Decrease downtime and increase safety with real-time condition monitoring!

Source: ifm; Port technology; United Nations; Journal of Marine Science and Technology; Ericsson; Arthur D. Little

Use case: spreader health monitoring

Unscheduled downtime can have a major impact

Spreader as critical asset which can cause downtime

Source: Bromma

Possible spreader layout with ifm technology and 5G connection

Robust control technology from ifm on the STS and yard spreaders enable continuous monitoring via the latest generation of mobile communication. The service data is stored on a server. Via an easy-to-use user interface, the spreader monitoring system clearly displays all relevant service information, which enables predictive maintenance planning.

Which information can be retrieved from spreader?

  • 24/7 continuous spreader health check
  • Instant view of spreader status
  • Calculation of individual KPIs

Use case: safety increase of AGVs


  • Working with heavy cargo and hazardous equipment poses a daily risk
  • AGVs with insufficient collision protection are a high safety risk
  • AGV collisions lead to unplanned downtimes and reduce productivity

Possible AGV layout with ifm 3D cameras to the cloud 

ifm’s camera system is designed for anti-collision protection of mobile vehicles. Any collisions between AGVs or AGVs with goods hanging above, e.g. spreaders on gantry cranes, will lead to accidents and downtimes, which need to be avoided. The ifm O3M anti-collision system, which supports the daily port operation, provides the remedy.

What are the benefits of using ifm’s anti-collision system?

  • ifm’s O3M is optimally suited for area surveillance of AGVs
  • The 3D camera has no moving parts and is virtually wear-free
  • While the risk of accidents in the port decreases, availability increases

What can ifm offer?

ifm solution: O3D starter kit

Discover the new starter kits from ifm to make your Proof of Concept with cellular connectivity. With the 3D camera, you can solve a variety of applications and obtain information for your control systems while you can be online with our Vision Assistant software via the 4G network or 5G depending on the starter kit of your choice. These contain everything you need (no SIM card) to get started. The package includes everything from power supply, cables, 3D camera, software to router/gateway for LTE or 5G. We have chosen suppliers of 4G LTE and 5G routers/gateways with great care and these are tested and connected by Ericsson. Please contact us to place an order.

➔ YouTube: Unboxing Video of one of our cellular starter kits with 3D camera

Option 1

Sierra Wireless AirLink RV55 4G/LTE router

The O3D starter kit: Sierra Wireless AirLink RV55 4G/LTE router. This starter kit is for those of you who already have a Windows device that you can run ifm Vision Assistant on. All you need besides the starter kit is a SIM card and your application and you are ready to make your cellular PoC.

Option 2

Sierra Wireless AirLink RV55 4G/LTE router, Zebra XSLATE L10, 10.1” tablet

The same as above but with an industrial Windows device. The tablet is a Zebra L10 with 256GB. XSLATE L10, 10.1", Standard 500 Nit, Short Cap Pen, IP65, Core i5, 8 GB, WLAN, WWAN W/GPS, 256GB PCIe SSD, Win 10 (64Bit), UK Pwr, Std Bat, 3 Yr Wty.

Option 3

HMS 5G Wireless Router Europe NV1000

O3D starter kit: HMS Wireless Router 5G. This starter kit is for those of you who already have your private 5G network and a Windows device that you can run ifm Vision Assistant on. The HMS Wireless Router 5G enables you to create a robust cellular connection in an industrial production environment. The router is prepared to be used with private industrial 5G networks in Europe supporting band 78.

Get advice from our experts

Together we will make your project successful.

Convinced? Just get in touch. We will accompany you on your way. To meet your requirements, our ifm system sales team will support you right from the start - ranging from strategic consulting to the development of individual software and hardware solutions and the corresponding implementation and further services.