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Wilson Sons’ towage operations centre hits milestone

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LNG Industry,

For 10 years, Wilson Sons has been using cutting-edge technology to ensure safer and more efficient manoeuvres in 25 ports along the Brazilian coast. The company's Towage Operations Centre (COR) uses big data, artificial intelligence, and has been implementing other advanced resources to monitor the company's 80 tugboats, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A pioneering initiative in the country's port support sector, COR completes its first decade with more than 450 000 manoeuvres and 200 special operations in its curriculum, in addition to monitoring more than 16 000 movements between Brazilian ports.

Wilson Sons’ towage operations centre hits milestone

“With COR, we were able to better plan the manoeuvres, allocate the most suitable tugboat for the operation and move our fleet at the right time, with the right speed”, highlights Rodrigo Bastos, Operations Director of the Wilson Sons’ Towage division. “The monitoring also ensures that navigation is carried out in locations with appropriate depth and away from obstacles in the channels of the ports where we operate”, he adds.

In addition to tracking the company's tugboats, COR is also able to see the other vessels in the ports to delimit navigable areas. The constant contact with all those involved in the operation – shipowners, port authority, firefighters, port pilots – and the fact that the information is transmitted in real time by the system helps the planning of actions by all employees involved in the operations.

“Among the many assignments of COR, safety is an important point. An alarm system is triggered whenever there is a risk of stranding, collision, speeding and unnecessary movements”, explains Bastos. In navigation with restricted visibility or in unfavourable safety conditions during the manoeuvre, this system emits an audible and visual signal in real time to the operator. This immediately informs the tugboat commander, signalling potential risks in the operation. Today, the Towage business unit has world-class status in safety, based on standards defined by Du Pont, a reference consultancy in the sector.

History of innovation

The pilot project for the Towage Operations Centre began in 2009, with the study of the technology to be employed. The chosen software has the functionality of vessel traffic service (VTS). In 2011, COR officially went into operation, monitoring the tugboats at the ports of Santos and São Sebastião (SP). Four years later, 100% of Wilson Sons' fleet was already monitored by the centre.

In December 2019, the unit opened a contingency centre, the CORCON. Since the start of its operation, it has monitored 2200 events. In 2020, COR started the implementation of an AI system to assist in the decisions of how to allocate tugboats in operations. The AI was developed at Wilson Sons, by Tuglab, the innovation laboratory for the company's towage services, created to accelerate the unit's digital transformation process.

In addition to bringing more efficiency and safety to the manoeuvre, the system contributes to reducing fuel consumption, minimising the environmental footprint of the operation, another important objective of the Wilson Sons Group. “Artificial intelligence comes to improve and support the work carried out by COR. The operators will be freed from repetitive and procedural actions to dedicate themselves to the more complex activities of our operation, which will bring more value to our company”, evaluates Pedro Lima Filho, fleet and COR manager at the unit.

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