The InTrade project

Building an adaptable, intelligent transport system

The challenge

Previously, the intelligent transportation systems that were being used in seaports could not adapt to their infrastructure, but rather the infrastructure had to adapt to them. Therefore, there was a high need for an innovative solution to internal traffic management and space optimisation problems.

Additionally, the growth of seaborne trade has influenced the development of ports and maritime terminals in the last few decades. However, despite the importance of the coastal area stretching from Ireland to the Netherlands, only a few ports in NWE have managed to keep pace with this growth.

The project in brief

Thus, the InTraDE project proposed an improvement to traffic management and space optimisation inside confined spaces by developing a clean and safe, intelligent transportation system

This system would adapt to the specific environmental requirements, and could be transferred to different sizes of ports and terminals. The transportation system would also operate in parallel with virtual simulation software, allowing real-time supervision of the operation. Therefore, no new investments in infrastructure were required.

To ensure the success of the InTraDE project, a close partnership between 7 partners was established. The multidisciplinary approach brought together various skills, and made transnational cooperation an important aspect of the project. 

The main goals of the InTraDE project were to:

  • Improve productivity and competitiveness of small and medium size regional ports of North West Europe (NWE).
  • Divert some road traffic elements to maritime coastal highways. 
  • Improve the operational safety and reduce the environmental impact of regional container ports.
  • Reduce the disparity between economically developed and less developed regions.

These vehicles removed workers from the port areas, reducing the possibility of human mistakes and increasing operational safety.

The impact

Partners from different universities designed an automated vehicle capable of increasing productivity and streamlining operations. The increase in productivity and efficiency, in turn, promoted the competitiveness of the ports.

At the same time, these vehicles removed workers from the port areas where incidents were more likely to happen, reducing the possibility of human mistakes and accidents, and increasing operational safety.

Additionally, by creating a virtual simulator of a maritime port environment, InTrade was able to interact with an intelligent road transport system for freight routing. This tool helped the existing sea terminals to simulate the intelligent transportation system in their virtual environment.

Another benefit of this research is that it can also be used to help future seaport designers in integrating the intelligent road traffic system

At the end of the project, partners established important contacts with companies capable of implementing the new system and bringing it to ports where it would be needed. The InTrade project is a good example of applied research used for the interest of regional development.

Dublin port, like all other smaller ports in north-west Europe are running out of space, so the Interreg (North-West Europe) project has given us a new way of utilizing space and this will help the port in the future to develop.

Kay McGinley, Dublin Institute of Technology

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