Success Stories Fluidmesh wireless solutions provide a radical overhaul of Malta Freeport’s OT infrastructure

Located at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta Freeport is a strategically ideal platform for the shipping lines that choose it as their Mediterranean hub port. It is located at the crossroads of some of the world’s most important shipping routes, making it an ideal intersection point for any shipping line.

Malta Freeport is a premier trans-shipment hub, having successfully operated for over 30 years as a vital part of the Mediterranean containerisation market. The Freeport is now a fully-fledged state-of-the-art Terminal, offering total operational deep water quays of 2,463m. Both terminals are equipped with 21 Quayside Cranes, 65 Rubber-Tyred Gantry Cranes (RTGs) and ancillary yard equipment. Malta Freeport Terminals benefits from  reliable and experienced shareholders that provide a solid foundation for further growth following its privatisation in 2004. The Freeport has undertaken an ambitious investment drive to the tune of over €300 million.  This investment has been used to develop the facilities both in terms of infrastructure and equipment, and also in investment in manpower, allowing it to simultaneously accommodate more than 20,000 TEU container ships between both Container Terminals. This allows the Freeport of effectively meet the increasing demands of its current and future clients. Malta Freeport recently handled its largest-ever vessel, the CMA CGM JEAN MERMOZ, capable of carrying up to 20,954 TEUs.

Automation plays a crucial role in the future operations of container terminals. The challenges that currently face operators are significant, but careful planning and implementation processes can overcome them, allowing terminals to exploit their full potential. With this in mind, a remarkable evolution is taking place at Malta Freeport Terminals: wireless connectivity is being used to seamlessly integrate all present and future movable assets (such as Quayside Cranes, RTGs and yard equipment, creating a low-latency roaming wireless backbone. Adequate asset connectivity is vital to be able to boost performance levels. A major impediment to this goal has been wireless issues that effectively undermine the desired productivity levels.

Malta Freeport Terminals Head of IT Jesmond Baldacchino said: “We performed trials with four suppliers. Several tests were conducted, including stress tests and data speeds, and we placed several cameras to simulate high-speed throughput.

“After several tests, it was established that we could use Fluidmesh technology to achieve data speeds of 50 to 60 Mbps with extremely low latency and zero packet loss, over a distance of 600 to 800 meters. One of the most significant features of the Fluidmesh products is the potential to scale the system.”

A private LTE (long term evolution) network was considered, but found to be unfeasible due to cost issues and incompatibility with current equipment. Fluidmesh technology allows the Terminals to leverage their existing equipment with much higher effectiveness.

Baldacchino added: “A Public LTE solution was also discarded, as it would have involved a high risk of network lag. Zero latency cannot be achieved, because the signal makes several ‘hops’ on its journey, drastically increasing the risk of failure.

“We created the backbone with Fluidmesh, and that allowed us to continue using the current network.”

Jesmond Baldacchino continues: “Originally, we intended to use the Fluidmesh system only on the quayside cranes. However, we later discovered that it also offers great potential on our RTGs fleet as well. It complements our IoT and Big data projects currently being undertaken. With this system, we are also in a position to gain full wireless coverage in areas which were previously challenging.”

Fluidmesh offers technology that guarantees reliable and efficient operations. The Malta Freeport system is powered by the Fluidmesh FM3500 ENDO, and backed up by Fluidmesh’s outstanding customer support.

Jesmond Baldacchino had high praise for Fluidmesh, concluding: “We are very satisfied with the professionalism of Fluidmesh’s personnel and their high level of support. They are always ready to help us through difficult problems.”