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Progress summary of the 2nd General Assembly

17 April 2018

Budapest, 22 March 2018

Hosted by NOVIMAR partner Szalma Béla (Plimsoll zrt) project members gathered in Budapest for the second General Assembly of the NOVIMAR project. The meeting was particularly of interest as much work had been done since the start of the project in June 2017. In the presentations interim results of the various tasks were presented and when putting them together a nice overview of where the project stands was gained. Or as emphasized by Robert Hekkenberg (TU Delft) “the fog is lifting and a rough contour of the vessel train is now appearing”.

Much progress is made in the business concept en transport modelling of the vessel train. Different roles in the transport chain have been defined and research is done on the present day freight market and on the possible role of the vessel train in the new markets of E – commerce and Fast moving consumer goods.

During the meeting conceptual short sea and inland ship designs were shown, with a design focus on unitised cargo and RORO/LOLO cargo handling. The result is a better insight in ship sizes that could fit in the intended geographical areas of operation for vessel trains. The concepts will further be developed by use of “the Antwerp case” and later in the project with the “Danube case”.  These areas will be modelled and used to assess the viability of the vessel train concept.

The manning of the vessel train was another topic. In order to better stand the consequences of no crew or reduced crew on follower vessels and the consequences for the crew of leader vessels, a risk/hazard analysis was performed. For this the most challenging situation was used: a manned leader vessel and unmanned follower vessels. Five categories of hazards were investigated: operational, natural, emergencies, equipment failure, and human factor. The insights were passed to the partners working in the various areas of interest, with the task to identify countermeasures.

Progress was made in the navigation of the vessel train with the finalisation of the track pilot, needed for the automatic sailing along a pre-planned route.  Next steps are to integrate real time river water depth in the navigation system. Further model test have given insight in mutual sailing distance between the different vessels in the vessel train and their optimal mutual relative position. Finally the results of the risk/hazard analysis must be looked at to identify responses on hazardous (navigational) situations. These aspects are most relevant for the design of the control system, needed to operate the vessels in the vessel train.

Finally the first ideas on the Overarching Decision Analysis Model (ODAM) were presented. This six layered model will be used to assess the profitability of the vessel train for five types of stakeholders and for the combination of all stakeholders.