Fényeslitke (Hungary), Jun 21 (EFE).- Apart from offering faster Internet for cell phones, 5G networks also aim to revolutionize global freight transport, and Europe has joined this experiment with the opening in Hungary of the first terminal on the continent that uses this technology to load and unload containers.
Just 15 kilometers from the Ukrainian border and surrounded by the Hungarian Great Plain, the East-West Gate logistics center stands on the outskirts of the small town of Fényeslitke, in the northeast of the country.
Inaugurated in October 2022, the facility was created to move one million containers per year, arriving by rail or road.
The containers are handled by automated cranes thanks to a 5G network supplied by the Chinese technology company Huawei to the Hungarian company that owns the terminal.
The business collaboration contrasts with the warning issued last week by the European Commission, which considers that the Chinese Huawei and ZTE represent “substantially greater risks than other 5G providers” for EU cybersecurity.
REMOTE CONTROL, THE KEY TO 5G
In the case of the Hungarian logistics center, 5G wireless technology enables the remote control of automated cranes from rooms where operators, using cameras, move containers, either from one train to another, or from a train to a truck.
“It’s like playing Tetris,” says one of the controllers during EFE’s visit to the terminal.
The remote controls used by the operators are very similar to those of some video game consoles, although these are used to maneuver real products.
With 5G remote control, container management is transferred to these rooms located away from the terminal area, where only a few operators work, creating an open, almost silent atmosphere, far from the usual hustle and bustle of a typical logistics center.
Huawei’s director of integrated solutions, Tamas Boday, assured EFE that this new work environment is “much safer” for employees and “more efficient” for the company because automation increases the capacity for loading and unloading containers.
“Rail transport operations involve dirty and heavy work, usually performed by older men in difficult conditions. Here, everything is digitized, which has allowed us to have more women employees working in better conditions,” Boday explained.
The first big change, the engineer points out, is that with 5G crane automation, the cabins that are usually on top of these machines to control them, “where people have to spend the whole day working 30 meters above the ground,” have gone.
In total, the three docks of the logistics center employ 120 workers with an average age of 26, some of them recent graduates.
The operators who remotely control the cranes have been trained for six months by instructors from the logistics center, explained manager Adam Talosi, the number two at East-West Logistics Solutions, the Hungarian company that owns the infrastructure.
“If someone wants to be a crane operator, they have to learn it here, because this is the only place where they can receive training, Talosi said, adding that the innovative system they use has been specifically designed for them.
A GEOSTRATEGIC ENCLAVE
This 5G transport terminal in Hungary defines itself as a waypoint on the Chinese-backed New Silk Road to connect Far East Asia with Europe.
For Boday, the logistics hub is “strategically located” near the Ukrainian border to facilitate the transfer of goods at a place where the European gauge – used in Hungary – and the gauge of the former USSR countries – used in Ukraine – converge.
“This facilitates logistics between East and West, which is why the terminal is called the East-West Gateway,” the Huawei executive said.