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Rotterdam begins ‘smart port' project

February 5th 2018
The Port of Rotterdam Authority and IBM are to collaborate on a multi-year digitalisation initiative to improve port operations through the application of Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud technologies, including an upgrade of the infrastructure of the entire 42-kilometre site to facilitate the hosting of connected ships in the future.

The initial focus of the project, which will also be supported by Cisco and Axians, will be on the development of a centralised dashboard application that will collect and process real-time sensor data on weather and water conditions, as well as data from communications across the port facility.

This data will be analysed using IBM’s IoT platform with the aim of improving traffic management at the port.

“Here in Rotterdam, we are taking action to become the smartest port in the world,” said Paul Smits, chief financial officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

“Speed and efficiency is essential to our business, and requires us to use all of the data available to us. Thanks to real-time information about infrastructure, water, air, etc, we can enormously improve the service we provide to everyone who uses the port, and prepare to embrace the connected, autonomous shipping of the future.”

The largest port in Europe, Port of Rotterdam handles in excess of 461 million tonnes of cargo and more than 140,000 vessels annually.

Previously, the port relied on traditional radio and radar communication between captains, pilots, terminal operators and tugboats to run port operations, but the installation of new sensors across the site will allow for the collection of multiple data streams about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability and visibility to support key decisions. 

This data will be analysed by IBM’s Cloud-based IoT technologies and turned into information that the Port of Rotterdam says it will use to reduce wait times, determine optimal times for ships to dock, load and unload, and enable the entry of more ships into the available space.

This could include, for example, predictions of optimal timings for a ship arriving and departing Rotterdam based on the water level, ensuring that the maximum amount of cargo is loaded on board.