The Port of Rotterdam recently announced that the first application of their multi-year digitization initiative in collaboration with IBM has been put into operation. The Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will move all data to the cloud, benefitting the port and those who use it. The initiative will also prepare the port to host connected ships in the future.
The initial phase of digitization is the development of a centralized dashboard application that will collect and process real-time water, weather, and communications data, all analyzed through the IBM IoT platform. The data will enable safer and more efficient traffic management at the port.
The Port of Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port, handling over 461 million tons of cargo and more than 140,000 vessels annually. In the past, the port used traditional radio and radar communications between captains, pilots, terminal operators, tugboats, and others to make key decisions on operations. Now, sensors are being installed across 42 kilometers of land and sea, spanning from the City of Rotterdam into the North Sea, along the port’s quay walls, mooring posts, and roads. The sensors will gather multiple data streams, including information about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability, and visibility.
All the collected data will be analyzed by IBM’s cloud-based IoT technologies and formulated into information that the port can utilize to make decisions that reduce wait times, determine optimal times for ships to dock, load and unload, and enable more ships to use the available space. For example, the Port of Rotterdam will now be able to predict the best time, based on water level, to have a ship arrive and depart, ensuring the maximum amount of cargo is loaded.
“Here in Rotterdam, we are taking action to become the smartest port in the world," says Paul Smits, chief financial officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. "Speed and efficiency are essential to our business and require 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."
With this new initiative, the Port of Rotterdam operators will be able to view the operations of all the different parties at the same time, making the process more efficient. Shipping companies and the port could save up to one hour in berthing time, amounting to approximately $80,000 USD in savings.
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