Port of Rotterdam uses AI to predict vessel arrival times

Port of Rotterdam uses AI to predict vessel arrival times

The Port of Rotterdam is expanding its use of artificial intelligence (AI) to standardise data exchange on port calls and predict vessel arrival times in port.

Using Pronto software, the Port of Rotterdam is predicting vessel arrival time within a 20-minute precision and calculating the arrival times of vessels up to seven days away from the port. Arjen Leege, senior data scientist at the Port of Rotterdam Authority says that using AI the Port of Rotterdam may be able to eventually predict a vessel’s entire route 30 days in advance.

Data sources include AIS and the Port Authority databases, encompassing vessel arrival times at the loading platform. Port Authority data scientists used the parameters to develop a self-learning computer model that was initially fed with 12,000 items of historical data. According to Mr Leege, the computer recognised patterns in these, enabling it to learn to predict how much time a vessel needs to move from the loading platform to the berth. “Computers can make complex connections must faster than people”, he said.

“The more details we know at an earlier stage, the better we can plan our resources. If you know it will be busy in the port you can, for instance, increase the towage capacity in advance by requesting tugboats from another port to call at Rotterdam. Pronto can now also identify which vessels are bunkered, piloted or towed in the port. Possibly there will be new applications in the future that we’ve not considered as yet. That is what’s great about this development,” explained Mr Leege.

AI has already been used in the port to reduce vessel waiting times by 20 per cent. Robbert Engels, product lead port call optimisation, explained: “The more parties share data and work actively with the information they receive from the system, the more transparent the chain will become, the better we will be at taking decisions and the better we will be able to manage planning deviations. It is still up to users themselves to interpret all the various times contained in Pronto, but in future, the computer may be able to help with this. The higher the data volumes, the more you can do. It goes without saying that there has been a strong focus on data security. Cyber security has been integrated into the system. We do not use any privacy-sensitive data.”

Mr Leege acknowledges that predictions are complex and sometimes computers can get it wrong. However, the Port of Rotterdam has not gone for a black box approach and has instead provided the computer with reliable parameters for its predictions.