December 06, 2016
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Wireless sensors have been installed on top of industrial scale mooring posts (IJ-palen) in the Port of Amsterdam. 30MHz, an Amsterdam-based industrial IoT company, provides the technology to measure the impact of mooring bulk carriers and monitor the condition of the piles in real-time, 24/7. The Port of Amsterdam’s aim is to further improve the management of their assets. 30MHz foresees a strong increase in the use of wireless sensors in port areas.
In the Dutch port city of IJmuiden, on the North Sea, bulk carriers that lie too deep to get through the locks, transfer their load onto smaller vessels. During the unshipping process, the bulk carriers are attached to two very large mooring posts, known in Dutch as the IJ-palen. Recently mounted sensors record all movements, which are visualized real-time in a 3D graph. The department of management and maintenance of the Port of Amsterdam receives immediate notifications in the case of unusual movement.
In the preparatory phase of the project, 30MHz worked with the innovation experts at the Port of Amsterdam to overcome various challenges with. For example, the mooring posts are positioned in open and often raw water and aren’t equipped with any kind of AC or internet access. To resolve this, 30MHz applied a wireless form of communication in combination with a rechargeable power supply that lasts for a year.
It was also a challenge to ensure optimal availability of the information gathered by the sensors. 30MHz placed a gateway on top of the port’s control center in IJmuiden that communicates with the sensors across the sea canal. Next to that, special antennas were installed on two buoys close to the location and the IJ-palen themselves resulting in an optimal signal, even when a bulk carrier is moored in the line of sight. To deal with the harsh nautic conditions (wind, salt, gull droppings, dust and sun), reliable industrial materials were used for the casing of the sensors.
The sensors measure the extent to which a rubber bumper that is fixed to the posts is pressed in and to what extent the vessel is pushing the poles sideways or backward. These actionable insights are then personally translated into decisions whether to adjust, repair or replace parts of the IJ-palen. The latter is very important because of long delivery times.
According to Joost Zuidema, project leader Sensors New Business at the Port of Amsterdam, using sensors helps increasing the sustainability of the port area: “The port wants to be faster, cleaner and leaner and sensors contribute to this goal. The management and maintenance of these assets take less time. Mainly because we don’t have to visit the location to see if everything is going well. The data gives us the information we need. Moreover, this technique improves business, since ships make better use of the site so the chance of distortion decreases further”. The Port of Amsterdam orients itself on more application of sensors.
Jurg van Vliet, CEO of 30MHz, foresees plenty of opportunities for the rapidly developing sensor technology, both inside and outside the maritime sector: “Sensors are also useful in the realization of so-called quay monitoring. Using this technology, barges know if a berth is available and are able to book it well before they reach the port. Sensor technology enables companies to interpret data from the physical world in an efficient and sustainable way. The information it gives you lets you improve business operations.”