Technology group Wärtsilä has cooperated with CSL Group to develop a lock entry assist system to aid a vessel’s approach and entrance into waterway locks.
The initial deployment of the technology will be on board the CSL ST LAURENT, a 22,600 GT Trillium class bulk carrier owned by the Canada-based shipping group. The ship operates on the waterways of the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes.
The new system comes in response to the increasing size of vessels operating on these waters. When entering the locks along the Seaway, the clearance for larger vessels is minimal, and the lock entry itself has become increasingly difficult.
Damage to both the ship and the lock walls can be avoided by facilitating the ship’s approach path to the locks, thereby making the operation safer, faster, and altogether more efficient.
“This project once again emphasises Wärtsilä’s leadership capabilities in creating greater efficiencies for marine operators through its Smart Marine approach,” said Joonas Makkonen, vice president, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä.
“Our extensive in-house knowledge and experience, combined with the industry’s broadest portfolio of products and systems, has enabled us to utilise the very latest technologies to deliver a level of innovation that is completely unmatched, and which adds real value to our customers’ businesses.”
The lock entry assist system uses high-performance global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to measure the ship’s position to centimetre accuracy as it enters the lock. Speed adaptive controls, together with allocation of the thruster and rudder, ensure that the vessel enters the lock in a consistent manner every time, while minimising the influence of external forces from wind and current.
During the entry, the system automatically controls the vessel’s lateral position and heading, allowing the operator to focus on controlling the speed of the vessel. A customised touchscreen interface is also being developed to simplify the operation and improve situational awareness.
“CSL is committed to working with qualified partners and regulatory agencies to improve operational safety and efficiency for vessels sailing the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system,” says Frédéric Jauvin, vice president, Global Technical Services, CSL.
“We believe that modern technology supports this ambition, and Wärtsilä’s lock entry assist system represents a positive step forward for us and for the industry as a whole.”
Wärtsilä and CSL said they have established a close relationship over many years. CSL is the world’s largest owner-operator of self-unloading ships, with its fleet featuring a number of Wärtsilä solutions.