The new system will be installed in Bremerhaven, at the riverside quay in Überseehafen to be precise. The German acronym SAMS stands for SchiffsAnlegeMessSystem, i.e. a ship mooring measurement system which will in future provide digital assistance for mooring manoeuvres at the quay. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. At the start of the project, Transport Minister Volker Wissing came to Bremerhaven to hand over the funding notification.
Dr Wissing stated, “Digital transformation at the ports is in full swing. Operations are now increasingly smarter, safer and more efficient. Installation of the innovative radar sensors in Bremerhaven in the course of the SAMS project will optimise capacity planning at the port, enable port charges to be billed and facilitate navigation. These data provide a basis for the testing and implementation of innovations such as automated or autonomous sailing. We are currently installing living labs like these at 15 locations and preparations are already under way for another six projects. We have already launched a new call for funding. I appeal to the maritime industry: Make the most of this opportunity – it is worth applying!”
Dr Claudia Schilling, Senator for Science and Ports, thanked Federal Minister of Transport Dr Volker Wissing for his support: “The federal government’s funding programmes provide enormous impetus, especially for modernisation and digitisation at the ports. The new measuring system at the quays can assist pilots and crews with complicated nautical mooring manoeuvres. At the same time, SAMS will help protect the quays and thus reduce maintenance costs. Thanks to this and other digitisation projects, the ports of Bremen are on the right track for the digital future.”
Quay facilities are exposed to extreme stress during mooring manoeuvres, leading to wear and tear of the quays or damage resulting from miscalculations when a ship ties up at the quay. The digital test field with a total of 58 sensors is intended to improve the situation at the riverside quay at Bremerhaven Container Terminal. The installed sensors can measure the distance between vessel and quay during the mooring process. These measurements are then used to calculate the vessel’s speed and mooring angle. They can also register the energy that is absorbed by the fender structure that protects the quay. And finally, the data recorded by the georeferenced sensors can be allocated to the individual vessels.
The SAMS data will be available to pilots and crews as live data to assist with the mooring process. This live feed is an important basis for providing shoreside assistance for future autonomous mooring systems. All the measured data will be permanently entered and stored in a database system in order to optimise failsafe performance and increase functional and operating safety. The data will also be available to a defined group of users for statistical purposes. SAMS enables the automatic detection of incidents, a major milestone for ongoing automation of the terminals and digitisation of the quay infrastructure. SAMS is thus an essential link in networking transhipment between sea and shore.
There are other exciting digitisation projects in progress at the ports of Bremen. The Digital Outer Weser project is under way and is scheduled for completion by spring 2023. The objective of this project is to obtain transparent information that is constantly updated to enable better use of the terminal capacities and optimise resources deployment, facilitate predictive ship arrival planning and thus also reduce fuel consumption.
The “Port2Connect” project was rolled out in January 2023 and will run until the end of 2025. This project addresses digital and smart steering of processes at the port. Ships will be accompanied and monitored by a digital port logbook while they are in port. Smart steering of processes at the port will protect the port infrastructure against damage and reduce pollutant emissions.
“The ports drive the German economy”
Before handing over the notice of funding at Bremerhaven’s Überseehafen, Minister Wissing had inquired about the current situation at the ports of Bremen. Senator Claudia Schilling emphasised that the ports of Bremen are looking at a decade of modernisation and renovation. The container quay, for instance, will be rebuilt along a length of 2.6 kilometres to make the port competitive in handling mega-container vessels. Immense public and private investments will be necessary here over the next few years. Moreover, substantial sums will have to be invested if the ports are to contribute to the successful transition to green energy and to a reliable energy supply for Germany. Senator Schilling stated, “The ports are now more important for the economic future of the country than ever before. I sincerely hope that the federal government will realise this and in future provide financial support for the ports in accordance with their significance.”
Transport Minister Volker Wissing referred to the National Port Strategy that his ministry was currently preparing. The new strategy is aimed at strengthening the ports as a whole and promoting cooperation between the different German port locations. In that respect, the ports of Bremen play a key role as they have strong links with the USA and are a vital automobile hub. “The federal government is aware that the ports drive the German economy.” Wissing suggested that the essential elements of the National Port Strategy could potentially be presented at the Maritime Conference to be held in Bremen this autumn. “We will help the port locations to develop a clear perspective for the tasks facing them.”