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Home Port News SEAFAR to launch Germany's first Remote Operations Centre

SEAFAR to launch Germany’s first Remote Operations Centre

SEAFAR, a Belgian technology and service provider specializing in remote-controlled and crew-reduced inland navigation, has collaborated with project partners HGK Shipping and Reederei Deymann to establish Germany's first Remote Operations Centre.

Located in Duisburg, Germany, the centre was officially inaugurated on 28 February with notable figures from politics, authorities, and industry in attendance. This centre aims to enable the remote control of vessels navigating inland waterways, addressing the shortage of skilled personnel in the industry.

Efforts are currently underway to utilize existing permits for the Lower Rhine trial and to extend this innovative solution to additional waterways. For instance, the Port of Hamburg is in the application phase for sections of the canal in north-west Germany, as well as the Mittellandkanal and other parts of the Rhine.

In Belgium and the Netherlands, similar crew-reduced concepts have been effectively implemented for different types of inland waterway vessels, some of which will now be overseen from the newly established SEAFAR site in Duisburg-Ruhrort.

"Expanding into the inland waterways of Europe's largest economy marks a significant milestone for our company. In collaboration with our partners HGK Shipping and Reederei Deymann, who have collectively equipped five vessels for this project so far, we aim to contribute substantially to modernizing transportation and the profession," stated Janis Bargsten, Chief Commercial Officer at SEAFAR.

At the Remote Operations Centre in Duisburg, there are currently three workstations designated for remote control operators who function as skippers, along with one workstation for the Traffic Controller. The Traffic Controller oversees vessel movements in the background and serves as the main point of contact.

Furthermore, the centre is equipped with state-of-the-art IT infrastructure that meets the highest security standards. Through this infrastructure, captains will have the capability to navigate inland waterway vessels remotely, utilizing control systems designed similar to a driver's cab, complemented by an extensive network of cameras. Project partners are working closely with relevant authorities and agencies to gradually obtain the necessary licenses for operation throughout Germany's inland waterway network.

Martin Deymann, managing director of Reederei Deymann, weighs in on the industry's challenge of attracting new talent to ensure the smooth transport of goods: "Remote control from shore can greatly enhance the appeal of the profession. The improved work-life balance afforded by working closer to home serves as a compelling incentive to either remain or enter the field of inland navigation. The Remote Operations Centre, coupled with increased digitalization, will inject much-needed vitality into this longstanding profession."

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