Germany Opens Remote-Controlled Center for Inland Shipping

February 29, 2024

© SEAFAR
© SEAFAR

SEAFAR, a Belgian technology and service provider for remote-controlled inland waterway shipping operations, has set up the first Remote Operations Center in Germany; a project completed in conjunction with HGK Shipping and Reederei Deymann.


The Remote Operations Center, opened on February 28, 2024, enables captains to navigate vessels on inland waterways from dry land, a development seen as central to stemming problems from the shortage of specialist workers. The partners are working with the public authorities to use the permits, which they have already received for the test operations that are underway in the lower Rhine area, and earmark other navigation areas for this  approach. They are currently involved in the application phase for route sections on the northwest German canal network and on the Mittelland Canal and for other sections of the river Rhine, for example.

This concept, which involve fewer crew members, isalready being used for different types of inland waterway vessels in Belgium and the Netherlands. “Our move to include the inland waterways of Europe’s largest economy also represents a milestone for our company,” said Janis Bargsten, the Chief Commercial Officer at SEAFAR. “We can make a valuable contribution to modernizing this mode of transport and the job description for this profession with our two partners, HGK Shipping and Reederei Deymann; together, they have so far equipped five vessels for this project.”


© SEAFAR


“As a leading inland waterway shipping company in Europe, we view ourselves as a driving force for the development of this sector at all times – in constructing new, resource-saving vessels and in also making use of the innovative solutions that are being introduced into everyday life as part of the enormous trend towards digitalization. If we’re going to reach ambitious climate protection goals during the next few years and decades, this will only be possible with inland waterway shipping and switching goods traffic to the waterways,” says Steffen Bauer, CEO, HGK Shipping.

“Remote-controlled operations from dry land can make this profession much more attractive," said Martin Deymann, Managing Director, Reederei Deymann. "Being able to combine job and family through a job that’s close to your place of residence provides valuable incentives for staying in inland waterway shipping or launching a career in this business. The Remote Operations Center and the associated boost in digitalization offer very significant momentum for this long-standing profession.”

The Remote Operations Center in Duisburg currently offers three workplaces for skippers, called ROC operators, to remotely control vessels and there is one workplace for the traffic controller, who also monitors the vessels’ movements in the background and is available to be approached as the senior contact person. Using IT operations, skippers can remotely navigate the inland waterway vessels using control technology, which has been recreated to resemble a wheelhouse, and an extensive camera system as if they were operating on the water.

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