Fabriek Logistiek: The warehouse of the future relies on 5G

Published on 06/09/2022 in Customer Stories

A 5G-MPN (Mobile Private Network)New window lets you take various warehouse processes to the next level. The challenges for which 5G offers an answer can already be seen at Fabriek Logistiek.

Fabriek Logistiek: The warehouse of the future relies on 5G

Challenges in the logistics sector

Shorter delivery times, personnel shortages, rising transport costs: these are just a few of the challenges confronting the logistics sector today. To meet these challenges, the sector has long been committed to innovation, including extensive automation and artificial intelligence. 5G plays a crucial role in that context.

5G Mobile Private Network

Thanks to 5G-MPN, warehouses will have a local mobile network with high capacity and speed. The exchange of large data volumes with extremely low latency is a real gamechanger here. For the logistics sector, the innovations and possible applications are endless. Speed, safety and reliability are paramount.

What does the 5G Mobile Private Network (MPN) offer in Fabriek Logistiek

Unique network

That these applications are closer than we think is evident at Fabriek Logistiek, the logistics test site of the East Flanders Provincial Development Agency (Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij, POM). In the warehouse, autonomous vehicles operate, drones fly and employees use applications with a hololens. Companies can test their ideas there, and in doing so use a 5G-MPN unique in Flanders, rolled out by Proximus. The prominent journal Data News, among others, has reported on the potential of 5G and the way that Proximus, together with partners, has provided a 5G-MPN at Fabriek Logistiek.

Data remain local

Proximus configures the 5G network at Fabriek Logistiek depending on the desired application, so that different virtual networks exist in parallel. One network will allow large data volumes to be sent back and forth; another will give priority to speed or make it possible to work simultaneously with a large number of connected devices. It is essential that the data captured and analyzed in a 5G-MPN always remain local and so never travel over the public mobile network. This immediately guarantees data security.

Application 1: order picking with hololens and 5G

5G makes order picking in warehouses more efficient and easier. The sector often calls on student workers, temporary workers and seasonal workers for this. But first they need training, which takes time. The use of a hololens, futuristic glasses that use 5G, can make new employees useful immediately and allow them to work more efficiently in the future.

The hololens helps and supports warehouse employees during order picking by quickly and clearly virtually displaying information such as item lists. The application also leads the employee through the warehouse in the most efficient way. Holographic arrows projected on the glasses point out the way. At the same time the user still sees the surroundings through the glasses. Scanning can be done completely handsfree too.

In addition to 5G, Proximus supports the new Wi-Fi 6 technology. For order picking, a good range was crucial, and that could be guaranteed here with 5G-MPN. An additional advantage was that when someone moves outside the warehouse the connection remains active. In that case there is an automatic switchover to the public network.

Facilitating order picking with the hololens and 5G:

Application 2: Self-driving forklifts

5G also brings the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) closer. They are efficient, precise, flexible and can be deployed 24/7. Here too a fast and powerful network is needed, for communication with the controlling software among other things. This ensures safe steering and traffic control. So the reliability of the network is crucial.

A 5G-MPN guarantees fast and error-free communication. Experiments have been done in the past with AGVs connected with the Wi-Fi network in warehouses. Our tests indicated better performance and coverage with 5G.

5G ensures optimal operation of self-driving forklifts:

Application 3: Drones

Drones also have enormous potential for the logistics sector. Consider applications in which a drone can very quickly take photos of the labels of certain items and then send them for analysis, for example of the inventory level of products. The drone can quickly access a problem anywhere, so that employees always have an overview. A drone can also serve as a guide for retrieving items, an application that especially in large warehouses will lead to greater efficiency.

DroneMatrix develops drone applications and is a partner in Fabriek Logistiek together with Proximus. CTO Dimitri Marechal outlines the importance of the 5G-MPN for the use of drones: “Thanks to the high speed and reliability of the 5G network we can send images from the drone to a local server or to the cloud very quickly. The images are analyzed there, for example to very quickly find out where specific pallets are located in the warehouse.”

How drones connected with 5G can help the logistics sector:

A 5G Private Network is a closed network built specifically to meet the needs of a particular organisation. It offers higher bandwidth, lower latency and more security than public networks, resulting in better performance, reliability and efficiency. This makes it ideal for companies looking to implement advanced applications such as augmented reality, industrial automation and autonomous vehicles.

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