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Case study: IBM involved in smart port initiative in Netherlands

The port of Rotterdam has selected IBM as its partner for the digital transformation project

The port of Rotterdam, one of Europe’s largest ports, is working in a digital transformation project with IBM in order to become a smart port.

The Dutch port, which currently employs 90,000 people, highlighted that the industry is embarking on its latest innovation journey–connected shipping. Connected ships operate autonomously and communicate with each other to avoid the risk of a collision. The Port of Rotterdam is currently working to host autonomous ships by 2025.

In order to get ready for this, the port is enhancing its 42-kilometer port area with IBM internet of things (IoT) technologies and IBM Cloud.

Through IBM’s IoT solutions, the port of Rotterdam aims to create a digital twin of the port – an exact digital replica of the port’s operations that will mirror all resources at the port of Rotterdam, tracking ship movements, infrastructure, weather, geographical and water depth data with 100% accuracy. “This part of our digitization initiative will help us test out scenarios and better understand how we can improve efficiencies across our operations, while maintaining strict safety standards,” the port said in a statement.

“We process more than 140,000 ships every year and coordinating the berthing of each vessel is a complex task that involves multiple parties and must be executed safely and securely. With a new digital dashboard, we will be able to view the operations of all parties at the same time and increase volume and efficiency of shipped goods that pass through the port.”

The port of Rotterdam is starting to implement IoT sensors, augmented intelligence (AI) and smart weather data.  Accurate water and weather data will allow shipping companies to predict the best time to enter the port of Rotterdam by identifying the most favourable conditions. This information will be provided by Weather Company, a company owned by IBM.

Also, having access to data about air temperature, wind speed, humidity, and salinity of the water plus water flow and levels, tides and currents, will enable the port to better predict visibility on a given day, and calculate clearance heights for ships. “This data will also have a significant positive economic impact on shipping costs. Calm water and weather conditions allow for lower fuel consumption rates, facilitate cost-effective per-ship payloads and help ensure the safe arrival of cargo.”

The port of Rotterdam has also established a new R&D facility called the Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing LAB (RAMLAB) in the port’s shipyards. This 3D printing field lab has the potential to enable wide-scale availability of certified metal shipping parts. IBM cognitive IoT technology is being infused into this production process, which uses a robotic welding arm to apply high-quality metal layer-by-layer to create ship components such as propellers.

As part of its digitalization project, the port of Rotterdam is also putting in place a number of smart quay walls and sensor-equipped buoys that support ship-to-ship cargo transfer.



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