Telefónica and Navantia turn the Ferrol shipyard into the first in Europe with 5G for ship construction and repairs

  • Three use cases based on 5G and edge computing have been implemented, providing low latency and real-time processing capabilities, as well as augmented reality and 3D modelling
  • To this end, a dedicated private 5G network has been deployed with 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz millimetre band frequencies, as well as an edge computing centre
  • This initiative is being developed within the framework of the first call for grants to promote 5G from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation through with ERDF funds


Telefónica España together with Navantia, Ericsson, cinfo and Idronia have implemented three 5G use cases for ship repair and construction at the Navantia shipyard in Ferrol, making the shipyard the first in Europe with dedicated 5G infrastructure.

This initiative is being developed within the framework of the first call for grants to promote 5G from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation through with ERDF funds.

Specifically, it uses the advantages of low latency and high real-time processing capacity offered by 5G and edge computing combined with virtual reality with very high quality visualisations and 3D modelling. To this end, a dedicated private 5G coverage network has been deployed with frequencies in both 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz millimetre bands, as well as an edge computing centre at a Telefónica headquarters in A Coruña, some 60 kilometres from the shipyard. This enables the ability to run use case applications such as augmented reality in real time and with low latency.

The three use cases that have been deployed are:

  • Remote technical assistance using augmented reality and 3D models for diagnosis and support: this use case enables, using augmented reality techniques that overlay 3D models of the machine and graphical indications in videoconferencing, a local non-specialised operator to perform repair or maintenance tasks with the assistance of a remote specialist and thus reduce downtime in the industrial chain. Nowadays, the machinery and devices used in an assembly line and industrial processes are very complex, which entails highly specialised support that few people or applications are capable of providing. The direct consequence is that, every time an important part breaks down, it is necessary to wait for a specialist from the supplier company to come in person, which can take days, with the consequent loss of productivity on the assembly line. This use case solves this situation.


  • The visualisation of virtual parts in a real environment makes it possible to verify, in a real scenario, how the designed construction work will look before proceeding to manufacture and assembly planning. This use case requires the placement, in an augmented reality image, of this infrastructure with millimetric accuracy, something that has not been done so far and thus, for example, to verify that a pipe will fit perfectly in an already built cabin of a ship, before proceeding to its manufacture. In this way, it will be possible to detect possible inconsistencies in the design at an early stage, with the significant savings in time and resources that this entails.


  • Supporting the modular shipbuilding process with blocks that are assembled together. A critical aspect is the verification that each of the “blocks” will fit perfectly with the others. Today this task is done with 3D laser scanning tools that generate huge amounts of information that must be analysed locally by high-capacity computers. This use case takes advantage of the high bandwidth of 5G to send the scanned point cloud via streaming to computers placed on the edge computing of the mobile network, so that this “3D reality survey” can be performed without the need to have high-capacity computers on site, or to move highly specialised personnel to each site. In fact, a single person could verify the correct state of block fabrication at multiple locations without the need to travel. A process that, today, takes days, is done instantly.

As Donato Martínez Pérez de Rojas, Director of Technologies and Digital Transformation at Navantia, pointed out, “the use of 5G is one of the key technologies for the evolution towards the 4.0 shipyard, which will optimise the entire production process and which, in the case of Ferrol, will turn the shipyard into a reference in the construction of state-of-the-art frigates”.

For her part, Mercedes Fernández, Innovation Manager at Telefónica España, said that “with these use cases we continue to advance in one of the sectors in which 5G offers the greatest advantages: Industry 4.0. In this process of industry transformation, having critical wireless communications is fundamental. And that’s where 5G fits perfectly: it offers high bandwidth communications, very low latency, guaranteed quality of service and high reliability”.

In the project, Ericsson has collaborated in the deployment of the dedicated 5G network, as well as providing one of the world’s first antennas for European millimetre bands, with which download speeds of several Gbps have been achieved. Cinfo, a company specialising in video and artificial intelligence technologies, has developed virtual reality applications using Microsoft’s Hololens 2 glasses, the most advanced on the market, which allow hands-free operation. Idronia, a startup that develops customised solutions in the field of digital transformation, has worked on 3D scanning streaming, which is essential for the third use case of block construction of ships. 

This is a further step in Navantia’s transformation project towards the Navantia 4.0 of the future, in which technologies such as IoT, big data, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and robotics play a fundamental role.

In this regard, it is worth highlighting the recent announcement of the collaboration between Telefónica Tech and Navantia to commercialise and develop cybersecurity and comprehensive technological security projects for the Defence and naval sector at a national and international level. Telefónica Tech, Telefónica’s digital business holding company, and Navantia will collaborate in the design, supply, configuration and implementation of cybersecurity solutions and technologies and related services, as well as in simulation, training and education. The collaboration will extend to the field of military air, land and maritime platforms during their life cycle.

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