International telco, Orange, has showcased a range of industrial 5G use cases at Belgium’s Port of Antwerp, less than a year after it opened its Industry 4.0 campus at the site.

Orange has unveiled a range of real-life applications, tailor-made for businesses, that demonstrate the power of Orange Belgium’s 5G network, and the transformational possibilities it entails for the Belgian economy.

Antwerp’s Mayor, Bart De Wever, told reporters that 5G was a crucial tool in fast tracking the recovery of the country’s economy in the post-pandemic climate.  

“Orange’s 5G can and will strengthen the competitive position of the Port of Antwerp in the much needed relaunch of the economy. Therefore, with the new federal government in place, I hope that the deployment of 5G will not be delayed any further,” said Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp.

The 5G network rolled out by Orange Belgium is the first large scale standalone network of the country, meaning it offers, alongside high speed and low latency, the unique network slicing capability that makes the network ultra-reliable for businesses.

Port of Antwerp – Connected Tugboats

Tugboats are maybe not the first kind of craft that comes to mind when you think of the term “autonomous vehicles”, but these boats will play a key role in the day to day functionality of the port.  Orange Belgium and The Port of Antwerp decided to connect a tugboat of the Antwerp Port Authority to the 5G network, allowing the ship to stream real-time images and other data (radar, sonar) to the control room. Using this real-time information, the Antwerp Port Authority can increase the efficiency and the safety of the towing of vessels across the port.

“At the Port of Antwerp, we are looking at a number of concrete 5G applications, such as smart camera’s, drones and autonomous ships and trucks. It is important to learn now about this technology as a company and gradually prepare for the arrival of it, because the great potential lies in B2B applications. It’s also important to realise that 5G is part of our country’s digital infrastructure and that we cannot afford to miss the boat there,” said Erwin Verstraelen, chief digital and innovation officer of the Antwerp Port Authority.


High-tech polymer manufacturer, Covestro, highlighted the importance of remote maintenance, enabled by 5G networks at the port.

The company decided to use the potential of 5G to allow its field operators to get real time access to all the information they need. Field inspections of chemical plants require a significant amount of technical information about the plant equipment, and require large expertise from the field operator. Using the 5G network, Covestro’s operators are equipped with a tablet or with smart glasses and connected in real-time to large amounts of technical data and videos, including 3D models of the installation to be serviced. With 5G, the field operators can also even call in remote assistance. Such access to crucial information significantly improves the work processes and the remote assistance lowers the need for physical presence in the chemical production environment.

“First of all we were amazed by the strength of the 5G-coverage in our outdoor production installations, even in between the steel structures. It is clear now that 5G will offer us the opportunity to enter a new, paperless era. Via an online, fast and secure data network we will be able to make sure that field operators in the future always have the latest technical information instantly available on the spot. Being able to also call in external online assistance will also have a great added value. And by making use of smart glasses, our field operators and technicians will furthermore also have their hands free to work. We are convinced that 5G will bring a crucial transformation to our industry,” said Peter Verdonck, Venture Manager of the Covestro aniline expansion project.


Abu Dhabi based petrochemical producer, Borealis, partnered with Orange Belgium to showcase the high level of quality control afforded by industrial 5G applications. Thanks to the highly secured data transmission allowed by Orange Belgium’s 5G network, Borealis can securely connect plants’ equipment with cloud hosted AI powered quality check systems.   The connectivity is now released from cable infrastructure, while maintaining data isolation and the highest industrial standards for its production.

“With 5G we can transmit large amounts of data, very fast and very secure, to ensure a high quality production,” said Nathalie Rigouts, head of IT Innovation at Borealis.

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