Hamburg Creates Digital Platform For Inland Traffic Management

Courtesy HHLA

By The Maritime Executive 05-09-2019 03:45:22

The Port of Hamburg is not only the largest seaport in Germany – it is also the second-largest inland port. Around 10,000 inland waterway vessels call at Hamburg each year, and the Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center (HVCC) is now developing a digital platform for inland waterway vessels that will allow ship calls to be coordinated centrally. The concept was presented to a public audience on May 8, in connection with the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the HVCC.

For ten years, the HVCC has served as a neutral cross-company coordination service, optimizing ship traffic coming in and out of the Port of Hamburg. HVCC’s job is to exchange data and to continuously improve the port system as a whole with as many parties involved as possible. This has been successful, with almost all shipping companies with mega-ships making use of the center's container ship services, while HVCC's inland vessel department manages the rotation of over 4,000 incoming feeder and inland waterway ships at the Port of Hamburg.

Courtesy HHLA

Given the growth in container transportation by inland waterway vessels in Hamburg, the HVCC is now developing its own inland shipping platform. Since 2012, the annual volume of container traffic reaching or leaving the Port of Hamburg by inland waterway vessels has grown by 40 percent to over 128,000 standard containers (TEUs). Added to this are more than 100,000 TEUs of “water-to-water transshipments” per year. 

“The new platform will make it possible to digitize and enhance the transparency of the planning of inland waterway vessel arrivals in Hamburg, the coordination of rotations within the port, the assignment of berths and terminal handling,” said Managing Director of HVCC Gerald Hirt. 

Currently, each shipping company handles the advance planning of its ships independently of the others, meaning that a high degree of bilateral coordination between the parties is required. The platform creates a network between inland shipping companies, ship operators, terminals and public authorities and ensures that data is exchanged smoothly between all parties involved. Overall, the aim is to enhance inland shipping’s position as an effective and environmentally friendly mode of transport and to make use of its potential for hinterland traffic. 

The new platform will be developed by DAKOSY Datenkommunikationssystem with financial support from the Hamburg Ministry for the Economy, Transport and Innovation. A pilot system is expected to enter a test phase in the third quarter of 2019, and it is set to begin full operation at the start of 2020.

“An institution like the HVCC is unique in Europe. It has evolved to become an established player in the maritime world and is a best-practice example of digitalization in action in the Port of Hamburg," said Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs Michael Westhagemann.