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Smart thinking for North-East ports

[ December 13, 2018   //   ]

Five North-East ports have got together to test satellite-based solutions to allow them to become more ‘intelligent’.
The Smart Port North East Testbed will bring together the ports of Berwick Blyth, Sunderland, Tyne and Teesport with digital and industry experts, academia, regional authorities to explore technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, unmanned marine vessels and airborne drones to examine ways of speeding up trade, increasing efficiency and reliability, reducing costs, tracking cargo, improving security and protecting the environment.
The Testbed is the first initiative of the Situational Awareness Information National Technology Service (SAINTS) that was recently launched by the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence.
It says the North East is an ideal location for the test bed, as its economy strongly connected to the ports as well as a fast-growing satellite and space sector.
Chief executive of the Satellite Applications Catapult, Stuart Martin, said: “Satellites have been providing services for the maritime economy for many years, with advanced technology for navigation and communications the norm in the sector. But as international trade continues to grow unabated, this initiative from SAINTS is an exciting new opportunity for UK companies to make significant technological advances for ports, and show what is possible from a combination of satellite data, terrestrial measurements and Artificial Intelligence.
“By developing this collaboration between innovative companies and the ports themselves, the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence offers the hope of long-term business growth in the North East and with it, jobs in a highly skilled and growing sector.”
The largest port in the region, PD Ports’ Teesport will test solutions to boost efficiency of its logistics and warehousing processes. Teesport operates nine weekly sailings to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge and knowledge from the Innovation Dock at Smart Port Rotterdam will help identify solutions and applications in the North East of England. It will lead on operational efficiency initiatives, together with Port of Tyne.
Home to the UK’s first offshore wind farm, EDF’s Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Farm, and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Port of Blyth has developed a hub for renewable energy, offshore and subsea companies and will explore technological advancements suitable for servicing the renewable and green energy sectors.
Sunderland will pilot solutions to improve operations, processes and transparency.
The port of Berwick, which is in the Northumberland Coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will trial smart solutions to enable closer collaboration between the port and its hinterland, including boosting the local economy through a greater focus on tourism.
Innovation director at Business Durham, Catherine Johns (pictured, below), said: “Ports play a vital role in the regional and national economy, providing trading gateways to the rest of the world, with a massive impact on local supply chains and communities.
“The launch of SAINTS illustrates the important role the region’s fast-growing satellite and space sector can play in finding solutions to local issues and developing them to solve global problems in a sustainable way. The test bed provides an opportunity to pool the knowledge built up in one of our longest established industries with that of one of our newest.”

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