‘Smart bollards’ installed by Port of Antwerp

The Port of Antwerp has installed a series of sensor-driven ‘smart bollards’ at the port’s quay walls in conjunction with technology company Zensor, able to measure the tension on the bollard and send digital updates back to the operations department.

The first five Bollard Monitors have been installed at the North Sea Terminal, and five more are planned shortly, Port of Antwerp says.

The Port of Antwerp has more than 120km of quay walls and 7,000 mooring posts and bollards, used to prevent ships from moving about during loading and unloading. In windy or stormy conditions, the ropes of large seagoing vessels exert an enormous tractive force on the mooring posts and bollards.

If a bollard, made with 650kg of steel, were to come loose, there is a risk that a ship could drift away or that people would be injured, the port says. Regular inspection and maintenance are therefore required to ensure safety.

In order to measure the tension in the bolt connection of bollards and to warn if it is in danger of coming loose or breaking, Port of Antwerp launched a call in 2020 asking external companies to devise a digital system capable of providing centralised monitoring. Out of the five entries, the ‘Bollard Monitor’ by Brussels-based Zensor was chosen as the winner.

The Bollard Monitor consists of two built-in sensors, which measure the tension and tension fluctuations on the mounting system. Every 15 minutes the system wirelessly sends the information for display within an online dashboard, which can be used by the operations department to optimise the preventative maintenance schedule.

“Instead of on-site checks, the sensors will automatically and immediately indicate when the bolt connections of bollards are being overloaded,” explains Tom Cornelissen, Sales Manager at Zensor.

“The technical services at the Antwerp Port Authority can view the actual load on the bollards live via the online Zensor platform. The system will send out an alert if a bolt comes loose.”

“This is not only much more efficient for maintenance, it also increases safety. The measured data from the bollards is linked to operational data from the Port Authority. The intelligent processing of this combined data provides additional insights and context about the load on these bollards.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

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