The largest port in Europe is aiming to move away from traditional traffic management using radar and radio communication for the 140,000 vessels that enter the port each year to a sensor based system.
The port is installing sensors across 42 km of both land and sea, along quay walls, mooring posts and roads that will provide data about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability and visibility. This data will then be analysed by IBM's cloud-based IoT technologies giving optimal times for vessels to berth and load and unload. The port gave the example of being able to predict the water levels for the best time for a vessel to leave and arrive maximising the amount of cargo it can load.
It would also allow ships to save on the time spent at berth which the port authority said could equal $80,000 per hour in savings.
Paul Smits, chief financial officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority said: "Speed and efficiency is essential to our business, and requires us to use all of the data available to us. Thanks to real-time information about infrastructure, water, air, etc., we can enormously improve the service we provide to everyone who uses the port, and prepare to embrace the connected, autonomous shipping of the future."
The port and IBM are also researching other innovations for using IoT and artificial intelligence.
It is not IBM's first move into the space of shipping and port operations and it is also rolling out a data analytics system with the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) covering a variety of different port operations, and recently announced a blockchain partnership with Maersk Line.