Ports of Singapore, Rotterdam and Dover are leaders in developing vessel traffic management technology and integrating AIS, radar and radio
Ports are at the forefront of vessel and container tracking using radar, automatic identification system (AIS) and tracing technologies to manage traffic and cargo flow.
Singapore Maritime and Port Authority chief technology officer Kenneth Lim says Singapore is gearing up to adopt new maritime technologies including vessel tracking and e-navigation for its vessel traffic management (VTS) centre.
Singapore is developing technology, enterprises and intelligence to improve vessel flow and safety in its next-generation port.
This includes “building a highly automated and digital maritime environment by leveraging technology and automation and enhancing business processes,” said Mr Lim at Riviera Maritime Media’s Smart Tug Operations Conference in September. “Port of Singapore is a living laboratory for intelligent shipping, vessel traffic management systems, e-navigation and terminal automation,” he said.
Singapore needs advanced vessel traffic management as it has 120,000 ship calls, handles 36.6M TEU of containers a year, has more than 1,000 vessels in port at any one time and has ships arriving or leaving every 2-3 minutes.
One of five technology drives supported by MPA involves strategic sea space and maritime traffic management. This is part of MPA’s industry transformation roadmap that also includes experimenting with new operational concepts, enhancing maritime communications, developing intelligent ships and maritime drones.
“We are creating an enabling environment for innovation. Catalysing maritime innovation ecosystems through our maritime R&D 2030 roadmap,” said Mr Lim.
Port of Rotterdam has advanced vessel management, introduced digital port services and information portals and is considering developing blockchain. Vessel tracking is an integral part of Port of Rotterdam’s latest innovation, the Boxinsider application. Introduced in October 2019, this enables shippers and freight forwarders to locate and track their containers.
Port of Rotterdam chief executive Allard Castelein says this enables real-time tracking of cargo. “By developing digital applications, we are making our port even more efficient, safer and more reliable,” he says. “Solutions like Boxinsider are a perfect match with our ambition to become the world’s smartest port.”
Boxinsider uses status information from container vessels and inland and deepsea terminals. It tracks containers and determines expected and actual arrival and departure times for vessels and container unloading and departures at container terminals. Users are then warned about any delays or disruptions.
ABC Logistics, as one of the launch customers, has seen the system’s benefits. “Boxinsider gives us a clear picture of the containers we can expect at various Rotterdam terminals quickly and with minimal effort,” says ABC Logistics account manager Remco Verwaal.
Port of Rotterdam head of digital strategy and transformation Martijn Thijsen says key to innovation is “co-operating with partners” and preparing for future operations. “We need to be ready for five-years down the line when trading will be completely different,” he says, adding that blockchain and vessel tracking is part of that. “We need to be open and collaborate in business. We need to share data as it can be valuable when processed,” he says, adding Port of Rotterdam is working closely with other Dutch ports and with Singapore MPA in developing integrated information flow and tracking technologies.
Port of Dover, in the UK, has implemented ship tracking technology using radar and processing software ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. The port operator contracted Marico Marine to upgrade safety systems as it invested in new harbour infrastructure.
Marico turned to Cambridge Pixel to supply software-based radar trackers and display technology for a new VTS in Dover. This needed to work seamlessly with a range of proprietary radars and have plot merging capabilities to combine multiple echoes from large ship reflections into single plots.
The tracker is designed to operate with many different radar types including those from:
Raytheon, Kelvin Hughes, Blighter Surveillance, Saab Sensis, Furuno Electric, JRC, Koden, Navtech Radar, Simrad, Sperry Marine and Terma.
Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister tells Riviera Maritime Media, during a visit to the harbour, that this technology is part of the port’s revival. “We have created an efficient transportation service with our operations geared towards the intensity of 24/7 ferry operations,” he says. Dover handled 1,760 commercial ships, 36,331 ferries and around 9,500 leisure craft movements last year.
Its radar installation is designed to detect commercial and smaller private vessels at a significant distance from the port and monitor vessel movements within the harbour.
Cambridge Pixel provided its SPx server for radar video tracking and distribution. This interfaces to each radar using proprietary network connections and accepts AIS input. Cambridge Pixel chief executive David Johnson says radar trackers and display software improve safety in Dover. “Radar with our trackers and display software will link to CCTV cameras to give port control officers greater ability to track, target, record and intercept vessels navigating dangerously,” he says.
Global vessel tracking
Infrared sensors improve maritime surveillance by augmenting information already delivered by radar and AIS. Controp Precision Technologies uses infrared and electro-optics to track multiple targets in dense maritime areas for both short and long ranges.
Tornado-ER infrared coastal surveillance automatically detects and tracks multiple moving maritime hazards, moving objects and vessels up to 12 km from a coastline. It works alongside Controp’s Speed-ER long-range observation system, enabling users to investigate the targets and their contents.
Tornado-ER has two mid-wave infrared cameras with live video from each integrated to generate one panoramic stream, which can scan 360° in three seconds.
Speed-ER is an extended long-range camera with highly stabilised optics.
Both are controlled through a dedicated human-machine interface to access panoramic imagery, maps, enlarged images and observation videos.
AIS vessel tracking works when ships transmit their information, but what happens when vessels are out of range of coastal stations and switch their AIS off?
In future, vessels will be able to be tracked using radio frequency (RF) for maritime reconnaissance. Kleos plans to launch satellites in Q4 2019 to locate ships using their RF transmissions. It will have coverage over key shipping hotspots, such as the Middle East, Australian coast, southern US coast and both east and western African coasts
Kleos has changed the proposed orbital inclination for the Scouting Mission cluster to 37° to improve data collection by 2-4.5 times over crucial shipping target regions.
Kleos has contracted Spaceflight Inc as the launch and mission management provider. Its satellites will be deployed by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation.
Kleos formed a safety-at-sea collaboration with Spire Maritime to combine AIS data with RF information in August. They will jointly develop ship tracking tools to improve maritime security and safety. Spire provides AIS information from its constellation of satellites.
*Orbcomm has secured a contract to provide AIS data to Global Fishing Watch collaboration by Oceana, Google and SkyTruth to advance ocean sustainability through greater transparency in global fishing activity.
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