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Progress summary of the 4th General Assembly

12 June 2019

The fourth NOVIMAR General Assembly (GA) took place in Karlsruhe, Germany on Thursday May 23rd 2019 and was hosted by MARLO. The day before the NOVIMAR stakeholder group meeting was held, followed by a meeting of the Steering Committee. On Friday May 24th 2019 during specialist workshops, the progress per Work Package was discussed. The most important result is the decision from the GA to continue with the project. This decision is based on the presented outcome of the NOVIMAR midterm assessment.

At the start of NOVIMAR it was decided to hold a midterm assessment half way the project. The purpose of this assessment is to establish whether the concept seems viable enough to continue the project and to investigate the need to define corrective actions for all Work Packages.

To support the decision making, a report was drafted and discussed. The report focussed on the effects of three important business elements:

  • Type of Lead Vessel (LV): what is the economic effect of using a dedicated LV or a cargo-carrying LV?
  • Waiting time: how long can a Vessel Train (VT) wait to gather sufficient vessels to make the VT economic worthwhile?
  • Combination of vessel types in VT: what is the economic effect of combining different types of vessels in the VT?

The results of calculations on above and other effects lead to the conclusion that there is potential in the VT concept. Further, four business models have been identified, which were discussed with 13 transport stakeholders. This discussion lead to the selection of that will be used for further research.

From a technical point of view, the progress on the design of the VT control system was discussed. Simulator trials performed by experienced inland skippers have shown the present possibilities of the prototype and identified operational situations that need further research. The trials have also shown that lead vessel skippers need to be trained in operating a convoy of ships (vessel train) on waterways with dense traffic.

Based on the presented information, the VT seems economically viable. The technical viability has not been fully assessed yet. Having all needed information presented, the General Assembly unanimously decided to proceed with the project.