Safer shipping with in-door positioning on RoRo vessels

A new pre-study initiated by Lighthouse explores the possibilities for safer and more efficient RoRo traffic. Loading a RoRo / RoPax vessel is a time-consuming job where people are exposed to exhaust gases and are at risk of injury. There are also major challenges in loading the vessels correctly, so that the right goods are in the right place and the vessel is given the optimal weight distribution. Through a more automated and modern system, several risks could be minimised, writes Cristofer Englund, Robert Rylander and Boris Duran from RISE Viktoria in the preliminary study.

Foto: Wallenius

Digitization is an enabling technology that facilitate automatic information exchange between connected devices. In-door positioning of goods on-board RoRo ships is an excellent example where automatic identification of goods can be aggregated through digitization, it may create a valuable overview of the cargo to be loaded/unloaded as well as the current situation of the cargo on-board the ship. This project explores the possibilities and viable solutions to achieve high positioning accuracy of in-door positioning inside RoRo vessels.

By engulfing the possibilities that high accuracy in-door positioning enables along with digitalization and automation, the traditionally manually operation called tally (the process of keeping track of goods on-board ships) will have a much wider impact on the shipment of goods, than just keeping track on where goods A is stowed on Deck 3. To achieve this, different data sources have to be available in a, for the shipping industry, new manner. This is something that is already happening in other areas of transportation and logistics supply chains.

Safer RoRo-shipping
Lack of correct cargo data and updated stowage plans have caused severe incidents where vessels have lost stability (e.g. Hoegh Osaka, 3 January 2015 ). Such accidents may be avoided by the introduction of a digitized cargo-handling and management system.

The increasing number of vehicles with alternative fuel has raised the need for a higher level situational awareness inside the ship. Digitalization of the cargo handling could be a way to mitigate the risk that is introduced with the combination of energy sources that rolls on-board our ships today.

By implementing an automated on-board system that can exchange data with shore-based data sources such as booking systems, national vehicle registration databases etc. along with a high positioning accuracy in-door positioning system and finer granular stowage/load/stability software, the system would be able to give benefits such as:

  • Less personnel that have to be exposed to hazards like emissions, particles, noise and the risk of being hit by rolling cargo during loading/unloading.
  • The trim and stability calculation would be more accurate, that could lead to less use of ballast water and still keeping the stability intact. That would lead to less energy consumption and less emissions.
  • The use of digital sensors (such as cameras) could also lead to faster detection of hotspots on the cargo, it would also increase the safety and situational awareness in case of a fire.

New positioning concept
In a larger perspective, the demands on the shipping industry is to become more and deeper integrated with data driven supply chains such as with the cargo owners that constantly want to keep track of their goods. Other stakeholders such as governments, customs and end customers are also interested in the status of the goods.
The overall scope for the concept of high accuracy in-door positioning is based on five specific areas:

  • Connectivity to shore/booking system
  • Identification of the vehicle
  • Tracking of the vehicle on the vessel
  • Positioning of the vehicle on-board
  • Visualisation of vehicles currently on-board

Several technologies have been evaluated and identified as a way forward and there may be different solutions within different areas.
Today, there is no existing off-the-shelf solution. However, technology for the different parts exists and how these should be combined will have to be assessed and further explored.

Read more in the full study available below.