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New Wärtsilä system helps big ships enter tight locks

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Wärtsilä's lock entry assist system aids the approach of large vessels into locks where clearance is minimal

NOVEMBER 8, 2018 — Wärtsilä has developed a system that will facilitate a vessel’s approach and entrance into waterway locks. Development work on the lock entry assist system has been carried out in cooperation with Canada’s CSL Group.

The initial deployment of the technology will be on the CSL St Laurent, a 22,600 gt Trillium class bulk carrier owned by CSL that operates on the waterways of the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes.

The Wärtsilä system comes in response to the increasing size of vessels operating on these waters. When entering the locks along the Seaway, the clearance for larger vessels is minimal, and the lock entry itself has become increasingly difficult. Damage to both the ship and the lock walls can be avoided by facilitating the ship’s approach path to the locks, making the operation safer, faster, and altogether more efficient.

“This project once again emphasizes Wärtsilä’s leadership capabilities in creating greater efficiencies for marine operators through its Smart Marine approach,” says Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä. “Our extensive in-house knowledge and experience, combined with the industry’s broadest portfolio of products and systems, has enabled us to utilize the very latest technologies to deliver a level of innovation that is completely unmatched, and which adds real value to our customers’ businesses

The lock entry assist system uses high performance global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to measure the ship’s position to centimeter accuracy as it enters the lock. Speed adaptive controls, together with allocation of the thruster and rudder, ensures that the vessel enters the lock in a consistent manner every time, while minimizing the influence of external forces from wind and current. During the entry, the system automatically controls the vessel’s lateral position and heading, allowing the operator to focus on controlling the speed of the vessel. A customized touchscreen interface is also being developed to simplify the operation and improve situational awareness.

“CSL is committed to working with qualified partners and regulatory agencies to improve operational safety and efficiency for vessels sailing the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system,” says Frédéric Jauvin, Vice President, Global Technical Services, CSL. “We believe that modern technology supports this ambition, and Wärtsilä’s lock entry assist system represents a positive step forward for us and for the industry as a whole

Wärtsilä and CSL have established a close relationship over many years. CSL is the largest owner-operator of self-unloading ships in the world. Its fleet includes a number of Wärtsilä solutions that are supported by Wärtsilä’s extensive service network.


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