The shipping industry is responsible for moving approximately eighty percent of the world's trade volume. It is therefore an integral part of the global economy, but it is also an industry facing increased regulations with more stringent minimum safety and environmental performance requirements, challenging freight cost as well as competitive pressure which necessitate the development of innovative and cost-efficient operations. This again is reflected in the need to adapt and develop ports and harbours which can accommodate ships of increasing size and cater for changing markets as seen globally.
Optimising safety and efficiency
Larger ships may require new berthing facilities and further have an impact on turning basins, sailing channels, navigational aids and likewise. In order to be profitable a port must operate at a high degree of efficiency. Therefore, every factor concerning the port has to be addressed thoroughly from the start. Key aspects like approach and departure conditions, operational limits, tug requirements, limiting conditions due to water depth, assessment of downtime for operations, dredging limits and location of aids to navigation are but a few of the issues that contribute to the safety and efficiency of a port.
Virtual reality is the key
By using ship bridge simulators various scenarios can be replicated utilising highly accurate numerical modelling tools. These tools model the interaction between a vessel and the ambient surroundings by replicating the hydrodynamic response of the vessel when exposed to external forces and effects. Simulators are therefore essential when modifying or building a new port. They provide the environment where various lay-outs, decisions and predetermined criteria can be evaluated under conditions corresponding to the planned ones. Simulators also provide the common platform where stakeholders can address their issues and relate them to the other stakeholders.
The simulator based approach is the proven method to establish the data and observations required to make informed decisions with regard to safety, efficiency and other impacts.
Simulators are likewise used extensively for planning the day-to-day port operations such as how tugs deployed are operated most safely and efficiently. By training in simulators strategies and procedures may be meticulously evaluated and rehearsed before an operation is carried out. Thus instilling confidence in the crews and accelerating the accumulation of on-board experience.