Every day, hundreds of large cargo ships navigate the Scheldt River to and from ports in Flanders and Zeeland. The river is curvy, with shallow spots, strong winds, and tides that can fluctuate up to six meters. The journey requires constant vigilance. CGI’s application helps speed vessels on their way safely and efficiently.

Every centimeter counts

The goal is to navigate safely through the river channel while maintaining sufficient clearance to keep the ship from touching the bottom. If navigation criteria are too conservative, ships carry less than optimal amounts of cargo. But parameters that are too aggressive can jeopardize safety. Even a small difference can have a major impact on efficiency; every extra centimeter of draft allows a ship to carry an additional 150 tons of cargo.

Ensuring ship safety and efficiency

A CGI team in Belgium worked with Flemish and Dutch authorities to develop the WEsterScheldt Planner (WESP) application to advise port authorities and pilots on keel clearance safety for ships navigating the river. It combines a static keel clearance calculation (based on water level, draft and channel depth) with ship dynamic components (squat, maneuvering, wave response) to analyze the risk of channel bottom touches. It can maximize port accessibility while maintaining desired safety levels.

Dynamic calculations provide real-time assistance

 

Dynamic calculations provide real-time assistance

WESP uses meteorological forecasts and real-time ocean conditions to provide dynamic predictions up to 48 hours prior to sailing. Calculations are customized to take into account vessel type, speeds through the transit, and channel configuration. Static computations can provide planning assistance up to a year in advance, to assist in vessel loading and in planning sailing schedules.

More to come

CGI’s work has made a real difference. Thanks to WESP calculations, vessels on the Western Scheldt reach their destinations safely and efficiency. Even more benefits are on the way in 2018, as the application is enhanced to help automatically plan ship voyages within appropriate tidal windows, determine maximum drafts, and perform calculations to ensure that vessels pass safely under electrical cables.