Thursday, February 1, 2018

Growth of Freight and Passenger Autonomous Vessel Technology Prompts Port Into Action  

Cloud Based System to Automate Smart Ship Movements

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Shipping News Feature NETHERLANDS – With the Port of Rotterdam aiming to host both freight and passenger autonomous vessels by 2025, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has announced that it is collaborating with IBM to transform its operational environment using Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based technologies in order to prepare the Dutch port's entire 42-kilometre site to facilitate connected ships in the future as the shipping industry sets its sights on automation.

This multi-year ‘digitisation initiative’ begins with the development of a centralised dashboard application that will collect and process real-time water (hydro), weather (meteo) sensor data and communications data, analysed through the IBM IoT platform, in the hopes of enabling safer and more efficient traffic management at the port. Paul Smits, Chief Financial Officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, explained:

"Here in Rotterdam, we are taking action to become the smartest port in the world. Speed and efficiency is essential to our business, and requires us to use all of the data available to us. Thanks to real-time information about infrastructure, water, air, etc., we can enormously improve the service we provide to everyone who uses the port, and prepare to embrace the connected, autonomous shipping of the future."

The Port of Rotterdam handles over 461 million tonnes of cargo and more than 140,000 vessels annually. Previously the port relied on traditional radio and radar communication between captains, pilots, terminal operators, tugboats and more to make key decision on port operations. Now, as the Port of Rotterdam begins its digital transformation, sensors are being installed across 42-kilometres of land and sea - spanning from the City of Rotterdam into the North Sea - along the Port’s quay walls, mooring posts and roads. These sensors will gather multiple data streams including hydro and meteo data about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability and visibility.

This data will be analysed by IBM’s cloud-based IoT technologies and turned into information that the Port of Rotterdam can use to make decisions that reduce wait times, determine optimum times for ships to dock, load and unload, and enable more ships to use the available space. For example, the Port of Rotterdam says it will now be able to predict the best time based on water level, to have a ship arrive and depart Rotterdam, ensuring that the maximum amount of cargo is loaded on board.

With the new initiative, Port of Rotterdam operators believes it will also be able to view the operations of all the different parties at the same time, making that process more efficient. According to the Port of Rotterdam Authority, shipping companies along with the port itself, stand to save up to one hour in berthing time which can amount to about $80,000 in savings.

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