Advanced Pilbara shipping system to guide iron ore giants

AMS MD John Sugarman in front of a VTS display

Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export port, will soon be home to a state-of-the-art shipping management control system that will improve safety, productivity and efficiency at the operation.

The system includes the world’s most advanced command and control system integrated with industry-leading radar, long-range closed circuit TV and voice radio technology to manage and guide thousands of ship movements in and out of the tidally constrained port with precision.

Australian Maritime Systems Group (AMSG) will design and install the vessel traffic service (VTS), which is part of a $70.7 million investment by Pilbara Ports Authority in a new integrated marine operations centre.

AMSG managing director John Sugarman said the system would help drive improvements in safety, productivity and efficiency.

“The incredible volumes being exported through Port Hedland, combined with its unusual geography and tidal conditions, presents a massive challenge to Pilbara Ports Authority and one which AMSG is proud to deliver a technical solution for,” Sugarman said.

“Vessels up to 340m in length have to be guided through a narrow channel to reach Port Hedland – a vessel leaves the port every 30 minutes during a tidal sailing window of four to five hours.

“The safe and efficient movement of ships is absolutely critical to ensure Port Hedland can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year – while ensuring maximum export opportunities.”

A record 460.4 million tonnes of total throughput was exported through the Port of Port Hedland in the 2016 financial year – or around $100 million worth of commodities every day.

Pilbara Ports Authority’s general manager operations captain John Finch said the new VTS is an example of the organisation’s commitment to industry leading practices and technologies that optimise performance and enhance safety across its ports.

“Pilbara Ports Authority has a strong focus on continuous improvement and looks forward to commissioning the world-class VTS system to help manage thousands of vessel movements at the port each year,” said Finch.

The core of the system has been developed using the premier Saab V3000 Command and Control VTS Software, which has been implemented at many of the world’s largest and busiest ports, including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Rotterdam, and Darwin and Fremantle in Australia.

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