Impala Paraguay has installed hybrid VSAT and L-band communications on a fleet of tugs pushing liquid bulk cargo on a key South American river
These vessels steer a fleet of 30 double-hulled barges along the waterway system between Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia.
Barges transport liquid cargo along the Paraná River, including gas oil, jet fuel, gasoline and naphtha products into Paraguay and exports of soya bean oil in the other direction.
Push boats need broadband connectivity for operational and crew communications along the inland waterways. Some of this is covered by mobile phone networks and 4G services. But outside this coverage, vessels use Inmarsat’s L-band FleetBroadband satellite communications.
This connectivity is used by onboard navigation and night operations equipment, load sensors and GPS position monitoring installed on barges. On average, each push boat consumes around 500 GB of data per month for vessel management and crew connectivity.
Impala Paraguay has since introduced more technology on the bridges of these inland push boats, requiring higher connectivity.
It has upgraded its vessels’ communications to Fleet Xpress, which combines Inmarsat’s Ka-band Global Xpress coverage with FleetBroadband. The unlimited bandwidth available supports IP camera surveillance installed on the push boats to improve safety of crew and the cargo transported by Impala.
As part of a three-year Fleet Xpress contract, each push boat is installed with 20 IP cameras connected via onboard antennas, enabling continuous monitoring from Impala Paraguay offices. Installation work was completed in Asunción, Paraguay.
“We believe using IP surveillance in our pushers sends a clear message to our clients that we will take all measures necessary to ensure that our operations are done in an efficient, reliable and responsible manner,” said an Impala Paraguay spokesperson.
Inmarsat sales director for offshore and fishing, Chuck Moseley said “The choice of Fleet Xpress represented an inland breakthrough for the hybrid combination of high-speed Ka-band plus continuous back-up over FleetBroadband’s L-band.”
The Paraná River is an artery for economic development, carrying around 80% of Paraguay’s trade.
Inmarsat’s contract includes committed data rates backed-up by service level agreements, said Mr Moseley
He said there is a “maritime data revolution” underway that has seen “shipowners accelerate the uptake of video-based applications to enhance collaborative working, security, telemedicine and crew connectivity.”
Connectivity applications of inland and harbour vessels will be discussed during Riviera Maritime Media’s Smart Tug Operations Virtual Conference on 1 December - use this link for more details and to register your interest