TL;DR - Hutchinson Ports’s sophisticated, mission critical networks at Hong Kong International Terminal (HIT) needed an easy to deploy 10Gbps wireless solution that was resilient to the RF interference and weather conditions in Hong Kong. Transcelestial's CENTAURI 10Gbps product, which has Transcelestial's APC (Adaptive Power Control) mechanism, provided reliable, full duplex 10Gbps connections that solved both the weather and interference challenges.

Background

Hutchison Ports Hong Kong International Terminal (HIT), is a major container terminal operator in one of the world’s busiest ports – Hong Kong Kwai Tsing Port, with twelve berths at Terminals 4, 6, 7 and 9. The Port of Hong Kong is a critical economic gateway to mainland China, and is a deep-water seaport dominated by trade in containerized manufactured products.

Globally, Hutchison Ports has over 30,000 employees, and  operating ports and terminals in 26 countries in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. HIT has continuously set industry benchmarks for productivity, efficiency and value-added services. Using modern management techniques, state-of-the-art computer systems and award winning IT applications, HIT has become a pinnacle of industry excellence.

Connectivity Challenges and Considerations for Terminal Operators

Connectivity remain critical with 24x7 reliability of operations, monitoring, control and backups relying on a fast and high speed networking system to ensure complete risk mitigation.

For port operations, an internally developed Next Generation Terminal Management System (nGen) enables terminals optimisation, innovation and collaboration with operations intelligences, execution and control, reporting and inventory.

Reliable low latency transport solution is essential for mission critical data and control signals running through services like Operations Monitoring System (OMS), Ship Planning System (Guider), Automated Truck Identification System, Yard Automation, Barge Identity Card System, Rubber-tyred Gantry Crane Remote Operations System, Computer Simulation, Rail-mounted Gantry Crane Remote Operations System, Wireless Paging, Radio Data System (RDS) and Anti Truck Lifting Protection System.

Various key leading ports around the world are now beginning to operate on similar application and services mix.

HIT has a number of data collection and storage centers responsible for active routing of port operations data, mission critical services, and all of the wired and wireless networks providing real time connectivity. These data centers are connected through pre-existing buried fiber bundles. Given these fiber cores have existed for over a decade, Hutchinson Ports HIT's Network team observed core degradation on a number of these fiber cores. With 24x7 operations, it is very difficult to stop operations to embark on long civil projects such as digging up large chunks of port concrete to re-deploy a new fiber core OR burying extra cores for disaster recovery.

The Network team was hence looking at solutions which:

  • Would be Wireless
  • Would not be affected by existing spectrum congestion and interference
  • Could deliver at least 10Gbps at a distance of 1.02km in any weather situation
  • Would be Quick and Easy to deploy and monitor using existing systems
  • Would be resilient against harsh Hong Kong monsoon season (which usually encounters typhoons) and the winter fog from the sea
  • Would transmit data with lowest end-to-end latency possible

Given these challenging requirements, traditional wireless microwave solutions fell short because:

  • RF Spectrum channel bandwidth availability challenges to achieve 10Gb
  • RF wireless signal congestion and interference that disrupts the required 10Gbps bandwidth
  • Low latency requirement for mission critical data

Transcelestial's Wireless Laser Solution for Seaports

Our partner in Hong Kong, Cyber On-Air, has a long standing relationship and a deep understanding of Hutchison Ports HIT's network requirements and challenges.

CENTAURI Wireless Fiber Optics solution provided a Wireless Laser Communication Link which did NOT require ANY spectrum licensing and was plug and play, right out of the box. The simplicity of being able to rapidly setup, in just a few minutes, a 10Gbps Full Duplex link between two key data hubs within the Port Terminal Campus was key to choosing our solution by our partner for HIT's needs.

(Left) View of the CENTAURI installed in port; (Right) Remote Data Center where the other CENTAURI device was installed

This unit was installed during the peak October monsoon season which was a significant concern for HIT's Network team due to the impact of heavy rains on traditional wireless systems and previous generation Free Space Optical (FSO) systems.

However, CENTAURI's proprietary algorithms and hardware innovation provide reliable, full 10Gbps links despite any weather situation. In particular, CENTAURI's Adaptive Power Control (APC) helps our devices adjust in real-time, autonomously, by understanding the change in weather through sensor fusion. CENTAURI automatically adjusts and enhances the link budget by pushing the right amount of power during such an event in order to compensate for increased dB/km losses.

CENTAURI's proprietary algorithms and hardware innovation has helped us create a truly unique solutions which is a generational shift in terms of what is possible with lasers.

APC in action here keeping signal level above critical and delivery full 10Gbps bandwidth. Also the smart beam tracking algorithms on the Centauri ensured alignment of the link was fully maintained despite storms and typhoons coming through the monsoon.

The resulting connection meant that HIT could maintain a robust and reliable link even in the worst conditions. Immediately post-deployment, the Port of Hong Kong faced extreme weather with severe thunderstorms reported every few hours, with >70mm of rain in one hour.

A full comprehensive description of how we have created such a step change is available here.

Posted 
February 17, 2022
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