AI technologies to boost harbour towing operations

The AI-powered OptiPort system will be integrated into the Helm CONNECT software application

Rotterdam-based PortX and Helm Operations of Canada have signed a new strategic partnership agreement to combine PortX’s AI-based port dispatching system, OptiPort, with the Helm CONNECT harbour dispatching and operations software application.

OptiPort uses artificial intelligence to optimise vessel dispatch based on crew working hours, currents, tides, vessel characteristics, fuel consumption and availability, with the aim of optimising the scheduling of harbour towage operations.

Depending on the port, PortX claims that pilot studies of the OptiPort system in action have shown savings of approximately US$1 million annually per port, by reducing fuel consumption and crew overtime while optimising vessel dispatch to reduce chartering of third-party tugs.

Together, these factors allow for savings of up to $200,000 per tug on a yearly basis, the company says. 

As part of the new agreement, Helm Operations will incorporate OptiPort into a new ‘advanced’ version of its Helm CONNECT platform. Using Helm CONNECT Jobs, powered by OptiPort’s AI engine, users will receive automated suggestions on the best towing vessel, departure time and running speed based on the current schedule.

“Helm Operations is the world leader in harbour dispatch and billing software. By combining our OptiPort Dynamic Port Asset Optimisation software with Helm CONNECT, we can help dispatchers and harbour operators around the world make better decisions on the use of their fleet,” said Vincent van Os, managing director of PortX.

“With the integration work that we have done with Helm, implementation of OptiPort can be achieved extremely quickly without adding additional hardware on the vessels or in the dispatch control room. This leads to real cost savings that can improve operators’ bottom lines almost immediately upon implementation.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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