Register for a free trial
Tug Technology & Business

Tug Technology & Business

Tug and port connectivity improves situational awareness

Thu 25 Apr 2019 by Martyn Wingrove

Tug and port connectivity improves situational awareness
Port of Rotterdam is using IoT to provide information to tug masters (credit: Port of Rotterdam)

Open access to digital information on weather and sea conditions, vessel positions and ship movements reduces the risk of accidents in ports

Future port operations will require high levels of open access to digital information for port users. Which is why one port authority has introduced a cloud-based portal for handling and displaying environmental and operational digital data.

Rotterdam Port Authority has implemented an online platform to provide hydrological and meteorological data to ship operators, tug operators and pilots. This system obtains tide height, tidal stream, salinity, wind speed, wind direction and visibility data from 44 sensors in the port. It displays real-time information on an open cloud-based platform.

This is the first of several applications the port authority will host on a new IoT facility developed in partnership with IBM, Cisco, Esri and Axians.

Each day, the platform processes some 1.2M data points for models, systems and users of the hydro/meteo system include the Pilotage Service, Rijkswaterstaat and various port authority departments.

Rotterdam Port Authority digital and IT consultant Vincent Campfens tells Tug Technology & Business pilots and tug operators “have access to real-time data and predictions about water and weather conditions in the port area through static dashboards on our public websites”.

This improves operations especially in adverse weather conditions. “This information is crucial for a lot of the operational decisions they make,” says Mr Campfens.

“This information is crucial for a lot of the operational decisions they make”

“The new platform in the cloud also enables us to give third parties authorised access to that data through international standardised interfaces.” This enables these organisations to build their own applications using validated data. “Giving them the potential to integrate the data into their own systems and processes way better than before,” says Mr Campfens.



Optimising tug safety


Adopting IoT and tug-port connectivity technology reduces safety risks and enhances port manoeuvre efficiency. Collaboration between the tug skipper, bridge team, pilot and port authority increases situational awareness for all harbour operations.

“Which results in enhanced safety and fewer accidents and thus, more efficient port manoeuvres,” says Trelleborg president Richard Hepworth. His company introduced an advanced navigation and piloting software, SafeTug, in Q4 2018. This delivers real-time data sharing that helps tugboat operators and ports to optimise safety and efficiency in daily operations.

SafeTug uses dynamic data to give tugboat masters accurate, real-time information on the movement of the ship they are manoeuvring. This includes the ship’s direction and speed, rate of turn, trajectory, heading and course over the sea. The software also shows the position of other tugboats using the system.

“Piloting requires the safest, most efficient and reliable technology,” says Mr Hepworth. “It demands exceptional performance, ease of operation and high position accuracy to facilitate optimum approach, berthing and departure.

“SafeTug improves the range and accuracy of navigational measurements, offering 360° visibility and enhancing situational awareness in real-time.”

Mr Hepworth says Trelleborg completed test deployments on Teesside in the UK, in Norway and the Port of Aarhus in Denmark.

“SafeTug improves the range and accuracy of navigational measurements, offering 360° visibility and enhancing situational awareness in real-time”

“This helps the pilot to know exactly where the tugs are located and for the tug master to know exactly what the movement of assisted vessel is, creating a safer and more effective pilotage experience,” he says.

Position data from the Global Navigation Satellite System is received on portable devices carried by the pilots and in the tug wheelhouses. Smart navigation information is displayed on iPads for the pilots, on a mounted display on board tugs and on computers using Microsoft Windows operating systems in port control centres.

SafeTug integrates with SmartPort Cloud, exchanging data to provide an overview of port and piloting operations.

Related articles





Knowledge bank

View all