RAK Ports improves safety and operational efficiency with Twinn’s smart mooring solution

Predictive and actionable insights help berth vessels at a deep-water bulk terminal

Increase safety and gain operational uptime with our Smart Mooring software

Project facts

  • Client
    RAK Ports
  • Location
    Ras al Khaimah, UAE
  • Time Period
    2020 – 2021, and operational from thereon
  • Challenge
    Strong waves at a recently built deep-water bulk terminal were causing extended downtime and risking damage to large ships.
  • Solution
    Using Royal HaskoningDHV’s predictive smart mooring software, port operators and ship captains get proactive notifications about the metocean conditions around the port, helping them reduce the risk to visiting ships, tugs, and infrastructure.

Saqr Port, located near the Strait of Hormuz in Ras al Khaimah, is a major hub for the Middle East’s industrial supply chain, with an annual cargo capacity of more than 100 million tonnes. In 2018, operator RAK Ports expanded the port with a deep-water bulk terminal for large vessels.

However, metocean conditions proved difficult to predict, risking damage, downtime, and unsafe mooring for ships. Using Royal HaskoningDHV’s Smart Mooring software, the Harbour Master can now make more informed decisions about how and when to berth vessels, with predictive insights which use a combination of weather data and hydrodynamic calculations.

The challenge

Predicting dangerous situations and preventing accidents

In ports, unforeseen conditions can quickly lead to dangerous outcomes. To ensure safety of navigation, harbour masters traditionally rely on a mix of manually compiled data and the gut instinct gained from decades as mariners.

Captain Michael Magee is Harbour Master at Saqr port, which is part of RAK Ports. He fulfils a role that goes back centuries – keeping port staff, visitors and vessels safe. “The conditions at the port are generally pretty good. For 90% of our days, we see great weather, but it’s that 10% where we really need help,” he explained. “When injuries happen at ports, it’s often during mooring operations [60% of them, according to the European Harbour Masters’ Committee]. Bad weather makes everything harder, too.”

He added, “We have facilities in place to understand how conditions are changing at our port – but going through that data and processing it manually is difficult and time-consuming work, compounded by the fact it has to be timely to be effective.”

Captain Magee was therefore looking for smarter, safer and more efficient methods by leveraging engineering expertise and technology.

The solution

Full port safety overview with real-time and predictive berth insights

Twinn’s smart mooring solution actively warns port operators of unsafe situations for moored ships. It does this by combining port and metocean data to predict mooring forces and ship motions days in advance. Harbour masters get a live port overview and can immediately see which berths are safe, critical or unsafe.

“This tool was created by data analysts and engineers, but it’s made for everyday port staff,” said Bas van Son, Twinn’s Head of Maritime and Logistics. “It gives them information they need, at a glance, without having to be experienced in complex algorithms or analysis.”

“It’s a comfort to us Harbour Masters,” Captain Magee agreed. “Having something that can cut through the data and give us actionable insights day to day allows us to make decisions at the optimum time to reduce downtime and keep our port moving.”

Read more about the Smart Mooring solution

Michael Magee

Having something that can cut through the data and give us actionable insights day to day allows us to make decisions at the optimum time to reduce downtime and keep our port moving."

Michael MageeGroup Harbour Master at RAK Ports

The impact

Improved port safety and greater efficiency of moored vessel operations

The real test would come, as Captain Magee put it, in the 10% of the year when storm seasons churn up waves and high winds. And in the storm season of 2020/21, Twinn delivered on its promise.

There were two vessels at Saqr Port one day as Captain Magee arrived for work. A Capesize ship sat alongside an outer berth being unloaded, and a Panamax vessel sat at one of the inner berths. As port staff loaded cargo and the crew departed and boarded via gangways, the Twinn smart mooring system alerted Captain Magee and his team to incoming bad weather. This vessel had loaded to the maximum draught at the inner berth and was due to move to the outer berth to continue loading to a deeper draught.

Having selected the two specific ships in the tool, they saw at a glance that the Panamax ship was at risk of rolling and breaking its mooring lines, endangering the staff who were unaware of the incoming storm. At the same time, the Capesize ship’s position at the outer berth, along with the nature of its build, meant it could remain and load safely and efficiently.

“We responded to the software and moved the Panamax ship out to anchor until the weather passed,” Captain Magee said, and it was the right call: “Everything panned out as the software predicted. The Capesize ship put out some extra mooring lines for precaution, but we were able to make the right decision to keep our vessels and our staff safe.”