Client’s challenge

The Port of Houston’s Operations team needed help monitoring the movements of vessels in real-time, primarily to make educated financial decisions and bookkeeping when vessels arrive at terminals, in addition to monitor bunkering (supplying fuel for use by ship) activities. The port was interested in deriving intelligence about where vessels were coming from, going, how long they were docked for, and their final destinations after they departed. Real-time data and analytics are essential to succeed in the maritime industry and the port lacked the necessary data and tools to support its operations teams efficiently. 

An assessment by their Operations team revealed they were losing revenue by not being able to quantify vessel activity within the port’s facilities.  40Geo, working closely with the port, saw an opportunity to help improve functionality, productivity, and ultimately increase revenue by implementing effective real-time monitoring via AIS (Automatic Identification System) and combining the real-time vessel movements with algorithms for monitoring the ingress and egress of vessels with the port.

Our solution

40Geo provided a holistic approach to the port’s surveillance needs. 40Geo’s experiences and knowledge of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the maritime industry allowed for development of a solution to be delivered and rolled out within 4 months.

40Geo started by developing and deploying 4 LTE enabled AIS receivers to gather real-time vessel data within the entire Galveston, Texas City and Houston ship channel and intracoastal waterway. The real-time vessel data collected via AIS combined with infrastructure GIS data (berths, terminals, facilities) provided by the port’s GIS team not only monitors real-time information about the vessels in the ship channel, but also monitors the terminals they are located within and how long vessels are located within port berths.

To fulfil the Port of Houston’s need for real-time surveillance, 40Geo leveraged its SaaS cloud-based platform called Raptor Geo-IoT, a COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) solution designed, from the ground up, to be a hub for aggregating geospatial IoT feeds and fusing them into sensible, common themed data feeds for use within Enterprise GIS Systems like Esri.

The 40Geo team also developed an algorithm that monitors what vessels take part in bunkering, and at what berths and facilities these activities take place. This provided the port with an enhanced understanding of revenue generating events happening within its facilities. The Raptor Geo-IoT platform continuously logs and monitors all activities with the Houston Ship Channel including the ability to review incidents through a GIS platform that can pause and replay incidents and other activities.

40Geo managed service provides the Port of Houston with data as a service in the form of maps, pdf reports and excel spreadsheets and 24/7 monitoring.

Impact on client’s business

This 4-month project benefited the port’s overall business efficiency, productivity and remote monitoring capabilities. The ports operation’s team knew they were not fully capitalizing on potential revenue due to the challenges of tracking bunkering activities. Due in large part to the solution that 40Geo provided, the port was able to increase revenue and recoup investment in the solution after 6 months. These improvements have made the operations and GIS team more efficient and aware of their facilities and the ship channel as a whole

The GIS team at the Port of Houston is considering a phase 2 of this project for increased monitoring capabilities including a better understanding of vessel drafts and overall ship channel congestion.

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