NYK Develops Software that Helps with Ship Berthing

Japanese shipping company NYK has, together with Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI) and Japan Marine Science (JMS), developed a system that assists with vessel berthing.

Illustration; Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC 2.0 license

As explained, the system — patent pending — assesses a vessel’s controllability and visualizes the risk in the berthing operation to reduce the burden on the operator and eliminate accidents caused by human factors.

Trials on actual vessels have been conducted, and NYK plans to gradually introduce the system to its managed ships. JMS will offer it for sale within the industry.

The technology used in this system is expected to be applied to the automatic shore-arriving system for manned autonomous ships that the NYK Group has been working to implement, according to the company.

When a ship is berthing, a guideline indicates the exact reduction in ship speed as the distance to the wharf nears. Following this guideline, the ship takes wind and tidal information into consideration while the operator provides instructions to tugs and efforts are made to control the rudder and engine.

The operator normally receives a multitude of information around the vessel and gives instructions to a number of relevant people. Such a heavy workload can lead to accidents caused by human factors, NYK said.

In the past, near misses have occurred, ranging from overruns and abnormally close approaches to serious accidents such as damage to the vessel hull, mooring and cargo handling facilities, and the pier.

Thus, the NYK Group has worked to develop a system to assist with berthing and subsequently eliminate accidents.

Image Courtesy: NYK

The software evaluates a ship’s controllability and visualizes accident risks in real time by analyzing information such as distance to the wharf, ship speed, ship-performance parameters, tugboat arrangement, and weather data.

The ship operator can use a tablet to confirm the relative position and approach speed of the vessel and assess accident risk.

This can reduce the burden ship operator are facing and prevent berthing accidents by alerting of risks to prevent accidents caused by misjudgment, NYK further said.