Port of Rotterdam Begins Cisco Edge Intelligence Rollout Case Study

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Updated:July 24, 2020

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Updated:July 24, 2020

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Who is Port of Rotterdam?


Rotterdam, Netherlands

Improving predictive maintenance and incident response times for patrol vessels with Cisco IoT

Patrol vessels for large shipping ports act as the eyes and ears for keeping ports safe. That’s why it’s critical that they operate in near perfect condition so they’re ready to respond in the event of emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances. With the help of Cisco Internet of Things (IoT) solution Edge Intelligence, data can be captured from the patrol vessels to help improve predictive maintenance, so the vessels operate optimally and improve incident response when time is of the essence.

The Port of Rotterdam, the largest seaport in Europe located in the Netherlands, spans about 42 kilometers, and has 80 cargo ships enter and exit the port daily.

With so much water traffic and activity to oversee, the Port operates 20 patrol vessels that assist with safety inspections on cargo ships, monitor the Port’s assets such as berths and shore side, and provide firefighting. For example, if a cargo vessel catches fire out in the water of the Port, the patrol vessels are equipped with water cannons to help extinguish the fire. Of their many responsibilities, the patrol vessels can function as fire trucks on water and also assist as tugboats to bring a ship to shore in case of engine or rudder failure, said Jouke Dijkstra, IoT Architect for the Port of Rotterdam.

Safety first

Because patrol vessels serve in critical operations, the Port of Rotterdam needed a solution to enable data capture and extraction from the vessels that can help them operate more efficiently.

To do this, the Port of Rotterdam completed an early field trial of Cisco Edge Intelligence with one of its patrol vessels.

Cisco Edge Intelligence is a software solution that securely delivers data from connected assets at the network edge to multi-cloud application destinations. It helps enable enterprises to better understand and control who has access to data and where it goes. For many enterprises, data must be captured from assets in remote areas or at the edge such as patrol vessels. Cisco Edge Intelligence is easy to deploy and scale securely so data can be extracted from these assets at the edge of the network. These data insights then help with decision making to improve operations.

During the early field trial of Edge Intelligence with the Port, the IT team assessed the different systems that are required on board a patrol vessel. For these vessels, systems including rudder control, engine control, and even water cannon control to name a few, need to operate smoothly and securely.

In addition, patrol vessels are equipped with drive-by wire systems, so an outside cyberattack could create huge safety risks for the people on board the vessels or even for the people on shore or on other vessels nearby. That’s why a secure solution for data capture and extraction was a must.

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Unlocking patrol vessel data

Since a modern patrol vessel already uses a high degree of automation and digitization, a typical vessel generates thousands of data points per second.

“There’s no way we can read all that data we’re collecting on the vessel and forward it to the cloud. It’s just too much data. So we need solutions to process the data within the vessel, extract what’s relevant to our operations before we forward it to the cloud to avoid data overload,” Dijkstra said.

During the Edge Intelligence early field trial, the Port’s IT team monitored operational data from the vessel’s engines. The vessel that entered the trial uses a combination of diesel and electrical engines—a hybrid that should reduce emissions. The longer-term goal for utilizing Edge Intelligence will be to identify how much the vessel has been able to reduce emissions.

Improving incident response with IoT

Because patrol vessels are typically the first to respond to an incident out in the Port, there’s no room for error when it comes to the communication required for response. Typically when a patrol vessel is called to respond to an incident, the crew on board the vessel receives a call from the control center to see if the vessel has enough fuel on board to respond and—if the incident is related to a fire—has the right firefighting equipment on board so that the vessel is properly equipped to respond.

“Having data about the vessel available on our network and in applications like with Cisco Edge Intelligence could ultimately reduce the time it takes to respond to an incident,” Dijkstra said.

By using Edge Intelligence for incident response, there can be a more direct assessment of which patrol vessel is equipped to quickly respond to the incident. The assessment would not exclusively need to rely on verbal communication that could lead to possible misunderstanding. Instead, the assessment can be made using real-time dashboards and thus reduce the time it takes to make decisions and respond to the incident.

“We’d have real-time insight into these capabilities which are invaluable in a crisis,” Dijkstra said.

Sailing forward

As the Port of Rotterdam enters full deployment of Edge Intelligence, the IT team hopes to roll the solution out to its entire fleet of patrol vessels to continue capturing and extracting data that will assist with predictive maintenance and incident response while converting manual processes to automated processes. For example, having access to real-time data for the patrol vessel will help equipment maintenance workers more efficiently schedule the right services to be done at the right time so the equipment doesn’t break down.

Eventually the Port hopes to make more of their assets smart and to even build a digital twin for the entire port. Deploying Edge Intelligence is another step in achieving that broader IoT vision.

“Edge Intelligence accelerates the IoT journey that we’re in,” Dijkstra said. “Our goal is to have a broader rollout of IoT for all of our Port’s assets to become smart.”

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