Wärtsilä’s auto-docking system now available

Wärtsilä’s auto-docking system now available

Wärtsilä has secured the first order for its auto-docking technology. The SmartDock system reduces the risk of human error and improves safety and efficiency by automating the docking procedure and eliminating the need for ship officers to perform technical manoeuvres multiple times a day.

To operate the SmartDock system, the Captain selects the destination and with a click of the ‘sail’ button, the SmartDock system takes over. The ship then leaves the dock, manoeuvres out of the harbour, sails to the next port of call, manoeuvres into the harbour and docks alongside the quay, all without human intervention.

On larger ferries that enter and leave tight docking spaces, the auto-docking system significantly reduces the risk of forceful collisions with the dock walls and subsequent damage that can be caused.

Successful sea trials were carried out onboard the ‘Folgefonn’, an 85 metres long ferry owned by Norwegian operator Norled. “We continue to be impressed with the Wärtsilä SmartDock system, which is unique in that it works hand-in-hand with the Captain to ensure the best performance on every docking, every day. It’s the perfect collaboration between an experienced crew and technology,” said Inge Andre Utåker, Regional director, Norled.

The SmartDock system reduces the risk of human error by automating the docking procedure

The testing included operating the automatic 180-degree rotational turn of the vessel, as well as Wärtsilä Guidance Marine’s CyScan AS with GeoLock technology, a cybersecurity enhancing secondary position sensor, which enables the approach to the berth to continue even if the GPS signal is lost.

“The SmartDock solution is the culmination of decades of extensive research and testing by Wärtsilä in automation technology. Our system draws on similar automation and positioning technology used by oil rig support vessels to maintain proximity to the rig in the toughest sea environments. This gives us absolute confidence in SmartDock’s ability to meet the urgent commercial need to provide the safest possible docking for commuter ferries,” said Joonas Makkonen, vice president, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä.

Jakob Steffensen, head of innovation and technology, DFDS, commented: “The SmartDock solution offers improved safety and efficiency for existing vessels. More importantly, it represents an important part of the solutions needed to power the next generation of vessels.”

SmartDock is the first commercially available auto-docking solution.

Read more about DFDS and the how the company is using innovative technologies to improve operational efficiency and performance.