In the BSR draught limitations are a major issue, both water and air draught under bridges. Vessel draught depends on the weight of the loading of the vessel. In general, shippers intend to maximise loading capacity of the vessel and thus maximise water draught and minimise air draught. However, often the ship is fully loaded in one direction and not fully loaded on the return voyage. Thus, one of the most common situations affecting navigation safety is when empty or partially unloaded vessels comes into contact with one of the bridges, caused by misinterpretation of reading non-digitalised water gauges. The most common cause of it is inappropriate assessment of the height of the passage of the vessel, connected with vertical changes in water levels (waves, tides etc.). While a skipper relies solely on manual readings on water gauges, the accuracy fluctuates by +/- 10-20 cm.
Solving this problem would not only help to increase safety, but at the same time allows for more flexible ship loading: Vessel’s loading procedures can be adjusted to meet latest waterway conditions and by that allowing ships to pass the bridges the best possible way with maximum or minimum amount of cargo. Thus, using information showing the current value of the clearance under a bridge will have a positive influence on navigation safety and logistics (better route planning). Therefore, Inland Navigation Office in Szczecin as partner of the project has developed and implemented a system of automatic readings of safe clearances under bridges at Odra River in Szczecin, which will be based on a network of radar sensors and electronic information boards showing the clearance values to skippers in real time. The real-time measurement data will be transferred to the RIS centre which will make same public as well. The gained data will be gathered, analysed, and managed by INO also in future.
In EMMA Extensions the main activities refer to testing location of sensors and ways of electronic data exchange as well as integration into RIS and VTS. River Odra is a border crossing river which connects the Polish and German inland waterway system and important seaports in the BSR. The implemented solution will improve navigation on the river for all shippers navigating in theses waterways (mainly border-crossing).