Novel inland waterway transport concepts for moving freight effectively

The ability of ports to ensure efficient cargo transfers is central to their overall function and an important factor that influences port terminal attractiveness. The EU-funded NOVIMOVE project will conduct research on how to improve the logistics of this transport system.

With a consortium consisting of logistics operators, ports, system developers and research organisations in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, the project will reduce waiting times at seaports by improving river voyage planning and execution and facilitating smooth passages through bridges and locks. Focussing on the Rhine–Alpine water corridor from Rotterdam/Antwerp all the way to Basel, it will validate its new technology with virtual simulations, scaled model tests and full-scale demonstrations.

Inland Waterborne Transport (IWT) advantages as low-energy and low CO2 emitting transport mode are not fully exploited today due to gaps in the logistics system. Inland container vessels pay 6-8 calls at seaport terminals with long waiting times. More time is lost by sub-optimal navigation on rivers and waiting at bridges and locks. In addition, low load factors of containers and vessels impact the logistics systems with unnecessary high numbers of containers being transported and trips being made. NOVIMOVE strategy is to “condense” the logistics system by improving container load factors and by reducing waiting times in seaports, by improved river voyage planning and execution, and by facilitating smooth passages through bridges and locks.

NOVIMOVE’s innovations are:

  1. cargo reconstruction to raise container load factors
  2. mobile terminals feeding inland barges
  3. smart river navigation by merging satellite (Galileo) and real time river water depths data
  4. smooth passage through bridges/locks by dynamic scheduling system for better corridor management along the TEN-T Rhine-Alpine (R-A) route
  5. concepts for innovative vessels that can adapt to low water condition while maintaining a full payload
  6. close cooperation with logistic stakeholders, ports and water authorities along the R-A route: Antwerp, Rotterdam, Duisburg, Basel.

NOVIMOVE technology developments will be demonstrated by virtual simulation, scaled model tests and full-scale demonstrations. NOVIMOVE innovations will impact the quantity of freight moved by IWT along the R-A corridor by 30% with respect to 2010 baseline data. The NOVIMOVE 21-members consortium combines logistics operators, ports, system-developers and research organisations from 4 EU member states and two associate countries. The work plan contains 4 technical Work Packages. The project duration is four years; the requested funding is 8,9 MIO.

More information about the project can be found at the project website.