The extreme drought in the summer of 2018 caused serious disruption to freight transport on the Rhine and Maas. This drought is not a one-off, due to climate change snow and glaciers in the catchment area are disappearing and the precipitation and river discharge pattern is changing. How can transport on the Rhine and Maas best anticipate this change, in conjunction with the developments in this sector?
In the Digital Twin study, an initiative of SmartPort and its partners Deltares and TU Delft, a pilot study for a virtual environment was carried out together with Witteveen + Bos and inland shipping entrepreneurs. This so-called digital twin fairway corridor mimics the interaction between ships, rivers, and infrastructure such as bridges and locks. In this way, the consequences of climate change, among other things, are identified and an optimal waterway and the deployment of ships can be built that guarantee reliable, sustainable, and future-proof freight transport over water.
The digital Rhine corridor was set up from Basel, Switzerland. The pilot digital twin is a prelude to the corridor in which climate sensitivity analyzes are used for waterway transport and the effects on nature and the environment as well as the financial effects are estimated. Developments in the sector, such as automation and smart shipping scenarios will also be simulated. “It’s great that we were able to carry out this pilot together with the sector in the SmartPort community. We have been able to apply our high-quality knowledge to enable innovative and sustainable solutions with social and economic impact. Looking forward to moving on to the sequel, ”said Johan Boon, head of river engineering and inland shipping at Deltares.
Opportunities and investments
Partners in the research, such as Danser and NPRC, see the added value of a digital forecasting tool as an enormous efficiency gain. Development by independent non-profit knowledge institutes; Deltares and TU Delft contribute to a reliable environment where ownership and management do not lie with a private party. For example, a digital blueprint is being designed that is accessible to all companies active in the port of Rotterdam. “The pilot has proven to be a success and provides a basis for further research and upscaling. Logistic companies active in Rotterdam and the government who are not yet cooperating in this research but do see added value can make themselves known to SmartPort. In this way, partners of SmartPort help the port of Rotterdam on its way to a digital and sustainable future ”, says Elisabeth van Opstall, director of SmartPort.
Want to know more about the research? Contact Wiebe de Boer, project developer Future Proof Port Infrastructure for SmartPort and portfolio coordinator Coastal Developments at Deltares.