Drones secure the port of Hamburg with the Telekom network – eCommerce Magazin


  • Telekom Deutschland is building a campus network for the operator HHLA Sky for two locations more than 200 kilometers away.
  • Up to 100 industrial drones can monitor the network in parallel.

At the terminals of HHLA, Sky, a subsidiary of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, the flying robots inspect container cranes and asphalt surfaces in order to increase safety on the port area. This saves time compared to previous inspection procedures in port logistics. In addition, the drones reliably transmit sensor and flight data via the campus network.

“In the Port of Hamburg we are showing how well IoT solutions can be combined with the most advanced port logistics. In HHLA Sky we have found a partner with whom we can further develop our product together. Smooth logistics are of particular importance right now. We are making an important contribution to this with our innovations, ”explains Hagen Rickmann. He is responsible for business customers at Telekom Deutschland GmbH.

Telekom Rickmann Hafen-Logistik
Hagen Rickmann is Managing Director Business Customers at Telekom Deutschland. (Photo: Norbert Ittermann / Telekom)

Port logistics: drone flights increase security on port premises

With the joint project, the partners are pursuing the goal of learning more about the special requirements of automated flying robots for mobile communications. The drones rise to a height of up to 100 meters. In doing so, they sometimes cover long distances. As part of a development partnership, a technology team would like to conduct research at a second HHLA Sky location in North Rhine-Westphalia. For this purpose, Telekom has expanded the campus network in Hamburg to include this additional location.

The industrial drones are automated. They fly through several container terminals in the port of Hamburg. HHLA Sky uses them for various applications. Above all, this includes inspection flights, which replace complex tours, assignments by industrial climbers and the long waiting times associated with them. The flight area covers more than three square kilometers. It is crossed by several waterways, wind turbines and a motorway bridge.

Data transmission planned with the 5G cellular standard

“With the campus network, we can control almost any number of drones even more safely through a sensitive area. In addition, together with Telekom we can develop the entire system, i.e. drone and control center, much faster, ”says Matthias Gronstedt, Managing Director of HHLA Sky. “Controlling a fleet of industrial drones is challenging. For this we need continuous network coverage, high availability, guaranteed bandwidth and low latency. The campus network, soon with 5G, forms the basis for this. ”

The drones currently transmit all data packets with LTE. The new 5G mobile communications standard offers even more advantages in the future. For example, larger bandwidths and a higher network capacity. This requires space-saving radio modules for the drones. Telekom is working on developing these components.

Port logistics: Central monitoring of the drones

With the help of the drones, the technicians assess the condition of the cranes, loading machines and traffic areas. This is done remotely. During the flight, the drones therefore need a constant and encrypted data connection. For example, they transmit a live video image in HD quality. In addition, the drones and the control room exchange control signals. HHLA Sky uses it to monitor all movements of the drones simultaneously and centrally.

For a safe flight it is necessary that the control center always tracks the device status of the drones. This applies to temperature, state of charge or engine data. This results in a special requirement: the network technology must be very reliable for flight operations beyond the pilot’s range of vision (Beyond Visual Line of Sight, BVLOS for short).

Campus network M prioritizes certain data

The Telekom campus networks are available in different levels. Each level enables customized solutions. A campus network M uses the existing public network supply on company premises. If necessary, Telekom will install additional antennas. A data stream-individual prioritization in the radio network guarantees the reliable transmission of data with higher network load.

HHLA Sky offers a platform for the fleet operation of unmanned flight systems. The company can control up to 100 drones from a single control center. HHLA Sky also uses its drones itself to monitor the special infrastructure. The aircraft are also used in intralogistics. You use additional sensors for this. For example infrared cameras for thermal analysis. The drones are also suitable for transporting small packages or urgent documents.

HHLA Sky is a subsidiary of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA). HHLA operates three container terminals and other handling facilities in Hamburg. Hamburg has the third largest container port in Europe. It is considered to be one of the most important hubs for freight transport. (sg)

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