Brazilian ports, logistics and towage group Wilson Sons invested in technology to enhance operations and reduce costs
Brazilian ports, logistics and towage group Wilson Sons invested in technology to enhance operations and reduce costs. It launched initiatives to improve towage services to Brazilian shipping and harbours in the past year, using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve tugboat dispatch and record hydrographic data of Brazilian ports from tugboats.
Wilson Sons has also deployed sensors and cameras on its tugs to monitor vessel performance and operations.
These technical developments were explained by Wilson Sons commercial manager Eduardo Valença during Riviera Maritime Media’s ITS TUGTECHNOLOGY Webinar Week.
During one of the webinars, he described using technology on tugs to collate bathymetric data in ports to optimise dredging and tug operations.
As part of this drive, Wilson Sons acquired minority equity participation in Israel-based start-up Docktech access its digital twin technology. This is combined with depth measurements from its harbour tugs to recognise patterns in seabed changes in ports, improving navigational safety and reducing the need for harbour dredging.
“We are turning tugs into data-mining assets,” said Mr Valença. “We are getting real-time hydrographic and bathymetric data in ports using tug echosounders and GPS.”
By the end of May, Wilson Sons will have equipped around half of its fleet of 80 tugs with DockTech’s onboard data collector to record seabed depths.
“We believe using tugs to run data could be done to combine port data with vessel and bathymetric data to optimise operations, maintain shipping channel depths and improve port traffic,” he explained.
Tugs with Docktech technology are operating in the ports of Santos, Rio Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Açu and Vitória. It will be rolled out in the other 30 ports and terminals Wilson Sons operates in.
Using Docktech’s algorithm, managers can monitor the depth of the mooring berths and waterways in real time, predicting changes by recognising patterns in the data.
Wilson Sons also uses AIS data from vessels and tugs in Brazilian ports, then applies AI to process this information to dispatch vessels for harbour services. This follows its acquisition last year of a minority share in AIDrivers, a start-up specialised in developing autonomous mobility systems for ports.
“We have started developing AI-based tugboat dispatch to optimise tug manoeuvring from dock to dock,” Mr Valença explained.
“Our operating centre allocates tugs for jobs,” he adds. “We expect this will be operating in all ports by the end of the year, increasing safe operations and improving asset efficiency.”
This is based on collecting the right quality data at the best frequency to enable managers to make better decisions and improve operations.
“We are using data to empower decision makers,” said Mr Valença. “We are making smart decisions, analysing fuel consumption and improving tug utilisation.”
Wilson Sons is advanced in adopting digitalisation technologies. It has invested in a Tugboat Operations Center to monitor vessels 24 hours a day, for greater safety and efficient operations.
It also has a Maritime Improvement Center with a simulator capable of predicting different operational scenarios it uses to train its staff of maritime professionals, managers, and support teams.
Wilson Sons is expanding its fleet with new escort tugs and partnered with Damen to build six tugboats at its own shipyards near Sao Paulo over the next three years. These 25-m tugs will have bollard pulls of around 80 tonnes and will comply with IMO Tier III emissions requirements. The first of these is scheduled for delivery in Q1 2022.
Riviera Maritime Media’s ITS Salvage Webinar Week is being held 15 June 2021 – use this link for more details and to register