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Port of Rotterdam – INNOVATIVE HYDROGRAPHY

INTRODUCTION: A leading global port and by far the largest seaport in Europe, The Port of Rotterdam is situated in the Rhine delta and has a direct connection to Europe’s largest industrial regions, the Ruhr area, making it a key entry point to the European market.  For the port, understanding the depths throughout the 40km of the Port’s waterways is a critical piece of information for the day-to-day work.  Some years ago, because the Dutch Hydrographic Office only produced harbour usage electronic navigation charts (ENCs), the Port investigated the possibility of producing “berthing” ENCs containing high density depth data to support decision-making within the Port.  That ENC system is now dated so in 2013 the Port partnered with Esri to implement PortMaps.  PortMaps, built using the ArcGIS platform, it is not only an asset management system, but also provides the framework for hydrographic production at the Port, and a core element of PortMaps is the ENC production module built around QPS Qarto.  

PortMaps went live in 2015, now harbor masters, asset managers and marine pilots have access to the data they need via the Esri Maritime Chart Server (MCS).  MCS serves the most current ENCs available for the Port, including some created by the Port with depth information surveyed that same day.  To keep the Port open all year and safe for navigation, the Port operates a fleet of dredgers and also two survey vessels equipped with the latest multibeam echosounder systems, and it is not uncommon for three surveys per day to be conducted.

Fig1 – QPS Qarto ENC production utility

When an ENC update is required the base ENCs can be exported easily from the Nautical Information Server (NIS) using the Nautical S-57 tools which use an ENC cell coverage layer to select and batch export ENC cells that need to be updated.  The complete port area can be exported as ENCs in under an hour.  At this stage of production the exported ENCs do not include bathymetric information and to complete the S-57 ENC, Qarto is used.  From the seamless surface of the Bathymetric Information Server (BIS), Qarto receives a regular 5x5 meter sounding grid based on the shoalest soundings including the date of survey, as well as features from the NIS, to create the depth contours at 10cm interval (for water depths less than 25m), depth areas and also spot soundings.  In other words, a new ENC set is produced, populated with the most up to date nautical information and also the latest hydrographic data. Once the ENCs have rapidly been made available, they are published for a wide variety of different uses in the Port of Rotterdam.

“Thanks in part to QPS Qarto, ENC production times have been reduced from weeks back in 2010, to less than a week in 2013, and now in 2017 to just a few minutes.”

THE ORIGINAL ATTEMPT: Over ten years ago, the Port of Rotterdam started a pilot project to produce S-57 ENCs for 40 kilometer area that the Port covers. The goal of the pilot project was to produce daily high-density ENC updates that incorporated the daily hydrographic surveys in the Port. This product should contribute to efficient port planning by taking advantage of precise depth data and available “over-depth” in the Port’s basins and fairways and minimize under keel clearance (UKC) requirements. The over-depth is the vertical space between maintenance depths and actual dredged depth if the actual bottom is deeper than the maintenance depth. It took nearly three years to set the high-density ENC into production due to many conversion tools that had to be custom developed and performance problems in creating depth areas at a contours interval of just 10cm. 1

THE HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEY SERVICE: Hydrographic surveys are conducted daily in the Port according to a survey plan generated from siltation rates.  The Port operates three survey vessels equipped with the latest multibeam echosounder systems and with the help of QPS QINSy it is not uncommon for the Port conducts at least three surveys per day. The multibeam surveys contain overlapping tracks to distinguish seabed objects from unwanted noise/spurious soundings. The survey data is processed onboard the vessels by hydrographic surveyors the same day it is collected, and the data deliverable is an average depth 1x1 meter grid. On slope areas of bottom protection rock dump areas, a mean 0.5 x 0.5 meter grid is created to maintain detail of the seabed. Once the survey has been fully processed, it is sent to the Data Management Department as a clean digital terrain model (DTM). The survey vessels are connected to the Port of Rotterdam local area network by high speed connections and the survey results can be copied to the network drive that is monitored by the PortMaps data team. The Data Management office converts the DTM from an ASCII file into a GeoTiff containing two bands: depth and date of survey. After a quick visual inspection of the survey, the GeoTIFF is registered with the ArcGIS BIS.

The Port maintains a complete bathymetric surface model for its jurisdiction using the ArcGIS for Maritime solution. When new surveys are registered with the BIS, they are overlaid onto the existing data into a seamless bathymetric surface based on a set of filters and sorting rules. The ArcGIS for Maritime: solution uses the ArcGIS mosaic dataset functionality to combine the individual surveys into a seamless surface based on the rule “most recent survey data on top”. The Port of Rotterdam’s model is updated daily with the latest surveys, ensuring that the most up-to-date data is included in the Port ENCs.


ENC PRODUCTION: The Port of Rotterdam ENC and IENC production is coming close to perfection using the latest versions of ArcGIS, QINSy Processing and Qarto. Thanks to a joint operation of Esri, QPS and the Port of Rotterdam, the ENC production process is improved by the following steps:

  • ENC and IENC production from the ArcGIS product library
  • The ArcGIS S-57 validation utility
  • The QINSy Processing generalize DTM utility
  • Qarto depth contours and depth areas have quality and performance improvements
  • Qarto date-of-survey areas (M_SREL) auto populated from DTM metadata
  • The Qarto S-58 validation utility

Starting from an up-to-date GIS database, a must for a world class port, the Maritime and Inland ENC’s are produced within minutes for each ENC cell. The Qarto workflow is completed within just a few mouse clicks and takes the GIS exported ENC (base cell) and integrates this with the port’s continuous depth model from QINSy Processing to make available user defined depth contours, depth areas and spot soundings.

Fig3 – QPS Qarto, ENC production in just a few steps!


MAXIMISE PORT AVAILABILITY AND GOODS THROUGHPUT: All ports aim is to maximize the availability for vessels under all circumstances and to increase the throughput of goods by maximizing the vessels draft as much as possible. The two principal ENC consumers at the Port of Rotterdam are the Port Authority and the Marine Pilots group (Loodswezen). Both of these groups use the information in different formats to assist in the safe navigation of ships with marginal UKC. The use of High Density ENC’s or BENC’s by marine pilots is a critical factor in this part of the operation, as this shows exactly where and where not it is safe to navigate a ship, taking the vessel draft and the real-time water level into account. Any ship that is limited to the fairway by draft has to call in to the Port Authority at least 48 hours ahead. When the ship calls in, the Harbor Masters’ Harbour Coordination Center office (HCC) checks the fairway and berth depths using MCS. In the MCS user interface, the HCC officer can enter the ship’s draft, UKC and the tide level. The safety contour will be derived and shown automatically in MCS. During this time, the pilot will update his Portable Pilot Unit (PPU) with the same ENCs as MCS to prepare the ship’s transit to the berthing location.


Fig4 and Fig5 – Cruise ship Ovation of the Seas arriving in Rotterdam, and as seen in QPS Qastor

The Port of Rotterdam produce in total almost 300 usage 5 and usage 6 ENC’s. The usage 6 charts all have 10cm interval depth contours, giving it a BENC or High Density ENC character. Based on the surveys done in the port the new editions for the charts are selected and produced over night. In other words, what is been surveyed yesterday is available as a BENC today and in use by the pilots and the harbormasters, and potentially even likes of the captains (with dispensation) of the ferry services that have daily schedules to and from Rotterdam.

MEASURE ONCE, USE TWICE: The survey data that is recorded by the port’s survey vessels aren’t only used for the production of the ENC’s, the same survey data is also used by the port’s dredging team that lead the dredging campaigns for the Port of Rotterdam. Their task is to analyze the survey data against a port design model. Products like surface difference charts and volume reports are generated to monitor the siltation of the port. This information is used to instruct the dredging vessels on where maintenance dredging is required. This will guarantee the ports availability 24/7.

CONCLUSION: QPS and The Port of Rotterdam have for many years been hydrographic partners, and the hydrographic data deliverable is a critical to the Port of Rotterdam’s operations. The introduction of
PortMaps, based on the ArcGIS platform, enables the Port of Rotterdam to produce a wide variety of information products, including ENCs, from the Port’s survey data in less than 48 hours. By joining the GIS activities of all asset management departments of the Port in PortMaps to update the S-57 objects, data errors are significantly reduced and data is synchronized.

“The Port of Rotterdam ENC and IENC production is coming close to perfection thanks to the use of the latest versions of ArcGIS, QPS QINSy Processing and QPS Qarto.”

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS: The PortMaps project is far from over at the Port of Rotterdam. Due to the success of the project, the user group is expanding due to the easily accessible information products. In fact, the demand for other information products is growing. Now that the Port has reached the initial operating capability, the project is being shifted to automate and streamline more of the workflows. Web services can be introduced to serve the clients of Port of Rotterdam. Shipping companies and agents will be able to reduce turn-around-times if they can access the latest depth information.
Due to legislation in some countries, the method used by the Port of Rotterdam is not always acceptable. In these countries marine pilots are obliged to use the official ENC’s produced by the countries hydrographic office. Though, a bathy overlay ENC in combination with the official ENC is allowed instead of a complete chart as what the Port of Rotterdam is using. For the next version of Qarto, it will be possible to generate such bathy overlay ENC’s, an example of this is shown in figure 6.


Fig 6 – bENC containing 10 centimeter contours overlay on Primar chart in QPS Qastor.

Biography:
Jeroen van Reenen: Jeroen van Reenen graduated in 1991 as BSc Hydrographer at the Nautical College in Amsterdam and joined Port of Rotterdam in 1999 as a hydrographer. Later he became project manager
for the survey & dredging department and now works as an Asset Manager for the Data Management department. Before joining the Port, Jeroen worked seven years for Royal Boskalis Dredging Company on various international dredging projects.
Frans Nijsen: Frans Nijsen graduated in 2003 as BSc Hydrographer at the Nautical College in Amsterdam and joined QPS after graduation as a software support engineer focusing with a large focus on Qastor and Portable Pilot Units. Later Frans Nijsen became a port consultant and hydrographer at Royal HaskoningDHV and later an account manager with Caris. In 2014 Frans Nijsen returned to QPS to join the Marketing and Sales department.
References:
1. 2015 US Hydro proceedings. The Port of Rotterdam: A Modern Hydrographic Workflow. By Jeroen van Reenen, Port of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands. Co-author Caitlyn Raines, Esri, Redlands, CA

 

 

 

 

 

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