American Steamship Co, a Rand-ASC Holdings subsidiary, has become the first shipping company to deploy Wärtsilä Voyage’s SmartMove Suite for automatic dock-to-dock operations
Wärtsilä SmartMove has been deployed on self-unloading bulk freighter American Courage for hands-off transit along the Cuyahoga River in Ohio, US. SmartMove has advanced sensors and high-accuracy ship control systems, enabling automated dock-to-dock operations.
Wärtsilä introduced this suite of hardware and software solutions to improve safety, efficiency and productivity of shipping. This is part of a growing trend of applying autonomous shipping and navigation assistance technologies worldwide, including testing Wärtsilä technology for autonomous navigation on tugs in Singapore.
American Courage, as a 194-m self-unloading bulker with cargo carrying capacity of 24,300 tonnes, is the largest ship capable of performing automated docking and dock-to-dock sailing operations. It operates from the North American Great Lakes and along the congested Cuyahoga River. It has been testing Wärtsilä SmartMove since March 2020.
“This complete voyage-smart technology package addresses American Courage’s restricted water manoeuvring profile requirements including a position margin of less than 2 m and transit under bridges,” said Rand-ASC Holdings vice president of engineering Pierre Pelletreau.
Wärtsilä adapted its SmartMove technology on American Courage for business activities and operational environment.
“One example of this is the versioning of the technology that utilises the surrounding environment for vessel positioning making it ship-based rather than on shore,” said Mr Pelletreau. “The resulting impact was a further reduction in American Courage’s operating costs.”
Wärtsilä provides a suite of applications in SmartMove, with a standard-hardware setup and network of sensors including gyro, wind, motion reference and positioning.
This is connected to a single digital platform through which five software products are available: SmartDock, SmartTransit, SmartEntry, SmartPredict and SmartDrive.
“Advanced decision support systems bring value because they can automate the repetitive tasks, such as docking on repeated itineraries, allowing the navigation officers to focus their bandwidth on other parts of the operation,” said Wärtsilä Voyage senior business development manager John Marshall.
“This is not about going captain-free, rather, enhancing the capabilities of onboard crew as they traverse shuttle routes, congested or restricted areas, using automated dock-to-dock transit to ensure every trip is conducted safely,” he added.
There is redundancy in controllers and displays and core blocks of software in the full suite. Software blocks including controllers, sensor processing, thruster allocation logic and track follow are sourced from Wärtsilä’s dynamic positioning tools.
“We are effectively making each component smart, so the ship itself becomes the sum of the parts and is capable of working as efficiently and smartly as possible,” said Wärtsilä Voyage director of automation and dynamic positioning Thomas Pedersen.
“Decades of research and maritime data, multiple technologies, real-world testing and engineering have gone into this solution,” he added. “We are celebrating a new era of smart navigation together with American Steamship Co.”
Rand-ASC Holdings provides bulk freight shipping services throughout the Great Lakes region, with 11 self-unloading bulk carriers, three conventional bulk carriers and three tug/barge units.
It delivers domestic port-to-port services in both Canada and the US, complying with US Jones Act and Canada Coasting Trade Act for domestic waterborne commerce.
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