Smart Ports: Automated Asset Inspection and Port Sector Maintenance Insight Use Case

Connected Places Catapult is working together with Royal HaskoningDHV and ports around the UK, releasing a series of Smart Port use cases. Smart Ports are a key theme being explored and developed globally, having the potential to support the digitalisation of supply chains and logistics, increase resiliency, improve efficiency and accelerate decarbonisation.

This example of Smart Ports case focusses on Shoreham Port, one of the largest cargo handling trust ports on the South Coast, owning and maintaining over 8km of steel sheet-pile quay walls, a lock gate system and a network of public and private roads, pavements, quay furniture and buildings across the site. Wear, weather conditions and damage events can impact on these critical asset and lead to safety risks, operational downtime, cargo damage or unforeseen repair cost for the port. To avoid this, inspection of these assets is carried out regularly by a team of engineers and divers to test, measure and visually-assess their condition and plan repairs and replacement investments, as is commonplace at UK ports.

The port relies on their in-house engineering team to judge condition and repair schedules, using all the inspection and operational data from within the port. Inspecting assets more frequently should result in earlier identification of problems, lower cost repairs, and a longer overall asset life. The cost and human effort of inspections mean that some assets are reviewed less frequently, with a focus on mission-critical elements; underwater inspections carry particular safety risks for the personnel involved. The port also has responsibility for the beach-side roads which are used by the general public for leisure activities, creating a stronger focus on any surface deterioration.

Together we explore the potential of developing automation analytical tools to improve inspection and maintenance capabilities to deliver positive impacts in operational safety, asset lifecycle and planned investment in port infrastructure.