Port of Antwerp’s Deurganck dock, the main centre of container handling at the port, is developing smart quay features to support its annual freight volumes of 9 million TEU.
The tidal dock on the left bank of the Scheldt will develop connected features, including an automatic sounding boat, shipping operations and berth maintenance.
Piet Opstaele, Innovation Enablement Manager for the Port Authority, said: “The smart quay will enable us to make more efficient use of the berths available in the dock.
“And the automatic sounding boat will also make berth management more effective and pro-active, with the emphasis on prevention rather than cure.”
The developments mean that Antwerp has started to lay the foundations for the smart harbour — a port of the future where smart technologies are used to make both land-side and water-side operations more efficient.
Opstaele added: “The smart harbour in turn forms part of the ’Capital of Things’ that was rolled out last year by the City of Antwerp in collaboration with the Port Authority, the University of Antwerp and the innovation specialist imec.
“This took our ambitions to a whole new level, with the first practical initiatives coming online just a few months after signature of the agreement.”
Ships arriving in the port will have an assigned berth number on the quayside.
The quay will also be equipped with cameras and sensors to check automatically whether the vessel has berthed correctly.
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In practice, a section of quay on the North-West side of the Deurganck dock has initially been fitted with these devices.
The pilot project will run for six months and will cover barges as well as seagoing ships.
Opstaele commented: “You can compare it with a car that enters a paying car park where there are designated parking spaces.
“If you park outside the boundaries of your allotted space then you are taking up not just one but two slots, thus reducing the overall capacity of the car park.
“The same applies to ships that ’park’ alongside the quay.
“If they fail to keep within the boundaries of their ’parking space’ then this reduces the berthing capacity of the quay.
“The Port Authority’s dockmasters check to ensure that each ship is berthed correctly, but if the ship has already moored then it’s too late: manoeuvring a ship to make it properly positioned takes time and money, which we would rather avoid.”