How can 5G be harnessed to manage the flow of traffic through strategic corridors, support net zero targets, keep people safe and make the lives of logistics companies easier?
These are some of the questions tackled by Sam Li from Transport for Greater Manchester, Eman Martin-Vignerte from Bosch Group, Catherine Gull and Steve Unsworth both from Cellnex, who collectively bring expertise in public tranport, roads, ports and autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles and intelligent transport systems were a hot topic both in terms of their ability to harness the power of 5G, and critically, as a way of addressing some of the key challenges the sector currently faces. In a post-Brexit, post-Covid world, the need for greater efficiency and visibility into logistics processes is paramount.
The panellists shared their front-line experiences and progress from a variety of 5G projects, such as Smart Junctions 5G, which is connecting 10 junctions on a strategic route into Manchester, 5G Logistics, exploring goods tracking at port police drones at the Port of Bristol, and 5G Ports based at Felixstowe and exploring predictive maintenance and remotely controlled cranes. The projects are all utilising 5G's increased capacity and reduced latency to create safer environments - for workers and vulnerable road users - and more efficient utilisation of assets.
Wilson asked panellists what is the single greatest driver for the sector to adopt 5G: efficiency, environment or something else? Gull strongly identified environment as being of ever greater importance and Li confirmed that the Smart Junctions project will hopefully enable more active travel such as bikes, walking and scooters, with such transport modes prioritised over private vehicles. 5G-powered technologies can therefore help to support the achievement of key strategic policies such as net zero.
Martin-Vignerte identified that post-Brexit and Covid the conversations being had by the sector around 5G have changed. Li agreed that people are no longer going to services, that "Covid has flipped the logistics industry on its head". Increased formality in border processes plus signficant changes in behaviours around online shopping have meant that efficiency has become even more important. As a result, there is an increased hunger to understand how 5G can help support some of the key pain points being felt.
Li also flagged the importance of commerical sustainability, that for new technologies such as autonomous vehicles to come through, we need to ensure that there are long-term business models beyond projects and trials.
Martin-Vignerte perhaps summed it up best however in her closing comment: "5G is not an option, it is a reality and it's here now".
You can watch the video of the full panel session below. To find out more about how 5G can support the Transport & Logistics sector, visit our new hub.