Unique Piloting System for US East Coast’s Longest Pilotage Route - Trelleborg Marine Systems

Unique Piloting System for US East Coast’s Longest Pilotage Route

Piloting and Navigation

Trelleborg's marine systems operation has supplied the Association of Maryland Pilots with SafePilot Portable Pilot Units (PPUs) and a Port System server solution to facilitate consistent, real-time information sharing between almost 70 pilots. The SafePilot system is part of Trelleborg's Smarter Product Portfolio, which its marine systems operation is evolving to support the 'Port of the Future'. 

The Association of Maryland Pilots serves the Chesapeake Bay, the longest pilotage route on the East Coast of the United States, with its nearly 200 miles of waters. The scale of the waters put particular demands on the operational battery time the piloting equipment requires. Trelleborg was able to develop a specific navigation sensor to meet this need and fully integrate it with the port system and PPUs supplied. 

Beth Christman, Captain / Director responsible for Navigation Technology for the Association of Maryland Pilots, said, "We have been using PPUs since the 1990s, so we're well versed and experienced in the requirements we have of the system. We turned to Trelleborg for the latest supply as the company was able to develop a purpose built system to meet our needs." 

Vessels of almost 48 feet draft routinely transit the narrow channels of the bay, which themselves are only 50 feet deep. Due to the long pilotage route, there is a requirement for piloting navigation sensors to be charged during the piloting operation. To accommodate this, Trelleborg developed a special navigation sensor: the "Chesapeake Class" CAT XT. 

The CAT XT combines the CAT Rate of Turn (CAT ROT) sensor with the CAT I GNSS high-accuracy positioning sensor. It is used in paired units, with one connected to the ship's AIS pilot plug and power adaptor for continuous charging. The other is located on the bridge wing, running on a built-in battery. When the battery is flat, the pilot simply swaps the two units, allowing a continuous operation, a capability that is completely unique to Trelleborg's CAT XT product. 

Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg's marine systems operation, said, "It was a pleasure to work with the AMP on a project of this scale, and one that could challenge our technical team to come up with a bespoke solution that met the needs of such a vast waterway. 

"Trelleborg's marine systems operation is evolving its approach and product portfolio in order to better support the 'Port of the Future'. We are driving toward an offering that focuses heavily on Smart technologies, and the real-time and strategic data sharing that they enable. Ports and terminals are already beginning to automate their processes on the land side. However, I believe there is also a huge opportunity for optimization through automation on the jetty side too. 

"Automation has a huge role to play in refining scheduling and optimizing vessel approach. A seamless arrival means optimized unloading and departure, all closely intertwined with overall efficiency. Guiding vessels in, berthing and dispatching them, with the assistance of automation, increases terminal efficiency and improves productivity and performance. This can only be achieved through the deployment of reliable sensors that provide the data key for managing such operations. This is a critical area of development, and it's where we are focusing our efforts." 

It is as part of this Smarter Approach initiative that Trelleborg last year acquired Marimatech and its SafePilot solution, which gathers and shares vital information throughout the port environment. This solution represents one part of Trelleborg's Smart Product Portfolio, which is increasingly building data acquisition, analysis and distribution into the wider Trelleborg offering. 

The SafePilot system server solution synchronizes data between pilots. Updates to information can be made on shore, and distributed in real time to ensure accurate decision making during the piloting operation. Recordings of all operations can be stored for future review and pilot devices backed up in the SafePilot Engine. Trelleborg is the only piloting technology company to offer both hardware and software, to form an integrated and efficient user experience. 

With delivery completed in May 2016, the full scope of supply included 160 CAT XT (operated in pairs), 80 SafePilot piloting software licenses with Pro Navigation, Docking, River and client / server modules, 80 iPads and one SafePilot system server solution. 

Commissioning, installation and integration was all carried out by Trelleborg on site. Furthermore, Trelleborg trained each pilot individually in the use of the system, ensuring best practice use and safe maneuver within the bay.

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