Svitzer intends to use some of the technology developed in a remote control tug demonstration project to improve operations across its fleet. The Danish tug-owning group collaborated with Rolls-Royce and Lloyd’s Register to develop a method of controlling a harbour tug from a remote control room.
This was first achieved in July this year and repeated on 16 November in Copenhagen, Denmark, using 2016-built RAstar 2800 tug Svitzer Hermod. This Sanmar-built tug was adapted to be remote controlled from a shore-based operations centre by installing a Rolls-Royce dynamic positioning system on the tug, which can operate at all speeds in the boat’s range of up to 13 knots.
Svitzer and Rolls-Royce installed additional sensors and communications equipment on Svitzer Hermod to enable a captain sitting in a remote control room to have the same, if not better, situation awareness as a master would have on the bridge.
This included adding Lidar laser scanning, multiple cameras, night-vision thermal cameras, multiple mobile phone network transceivers and satellite communications.
Svitzer group technical and innovation manager Thomas Bangslund explained that technology could be used for resting crews while a tug is sailing between different countries and ports. “During mobilisation voyages, if we can have an unmanned bridge, then we can have a rested crew when the tug arrives on site,” he told Tug Technology & Business.
The augmented reality developed for the remote control room could also be used on bridges of tugs to deliver more information to masters. The camera technology could be adapted for tug bridges to assist in navigation and towing, while thermal cameras enhance fire-fighting capabilities.
Mr Bangslund explained that data from tug operations could be used to improve the performance of captains – using data from the motion reference unit in the engineroom combined with towage operating data to provide advice to masters. Other operational data can also be used to help captains improve the performance of tugs.
Rolls-Royce supplied a full dynamic positioning system on Svitzer Hermod and built the remote control suite in Svitzer’s offices in Copenhagen. Communications between the tug and the remote operations centre is through cellular phone 3G and 4G networks.
If Svitzer Hermod travels outside of that coverage, communications would be through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band satellite service. Cobham Satcom installed two Sailor 600 GX antennas on the tug.