Streamlining Port Call Procedures for Inland Vessels: IW-NET’s Digital Demonstrator

In the IW-NET (Innovation-driven Collaborative European Inland Waterways Transport Network) project, which is funded in H2020 under Grant Agreement No. 861377, the team, represented by colleagues of ISL, recently had the privilege of presenting a digital demonstrator, which aims to enhance port call procedures for inland vessels, to the Harbour Master of Bremen Port Stephan Berger, and his team at the Port Authority Bremen. As a result of this meeting, one of the outcomes of the IW-NET’s project made one step further to become a reality.

The discussion centred around the innovative approach developed to streamline port call procedures. In the coming weeks, the ISL team will start testing the digital demonstrator, which will provide transparency to vessel operators and traffic managers alike.

This momentous endeavour falls under the purview of IW-NET Application Scenario 2: Application and Testing of Intelligent IW Traffic Management – Intelligent IW Traffic Flow Optimization (AS2a). This team is particularly focused on addressing the key challenge of existing infrastructure bottlenecks for larger vessels within the Mittelweser (TEN-T North Sea – Baltic) IWT corridor and ports.

Besides improvements for port call procedures, the IW-NET team has devised a Traffic Flow Simulation solution to tackle this challenge head-on. By investigating and optimizing infrastructure measures that influence traffic flows, the project aims to maximize the utilization of larger, more efficient vessel types in the corridor. This, in turn, will unlock the full potential of inland waterway transport (IWT) in terms of cost efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and enhanced competitiveness.

Historically, the Mittelweser was only navigable by small vessels until the 1980s and since 2017, has obtained clearance for the Großmotorgüterschiff (GMS), which is equivalent to Class Va vessels with a length of 110 meters and a beam of 11.45 meters. However, the fairway adaptations are still ongoing or have occasional cancellations, resulting in the absence of passing sections and draught restrictions. This results in a lack of predictability and reliability.

Addressing these consequences is crucial, as operational inefficiencies persist while traffic with larger vessels is physically possible. Through the digital demonstrators and the insights gained from testing, IW-NET aims to transform port call procedures and provide analytical means to optimize traffic flows, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness for inland vessels in the Mittelweser region.