Learn how an Artificial Intelligence application for tugs helped to optimize Wilson Sons operations

  • 01/10/2020
  • 8 分钟

The applications of artificial intelligence (AI) for tugboats – tugboats – can be noticed in several resources and tools. Therefore, an application developed exactly in this context tends to be quite useful for companies that operate in the logistics market.

To address this very relevant topic, we spoke with Marcelo Knaak, who is the Commercial Tug Manager, and with Elísio Dourado, Regional Manager – both of whom work in the Tug business unit at Wilson Sons, a leader in port and ocean towing services in Brazil, operating in the largest terminals in the country. Enjoy the information!

How can artificial intelligence help in the daily life of tugs?

According to Marcelo, AI is supported by algorithms that gather data inherent to the maneuvers that are part of the daily life of those who deal with maritime transport, such as the location of the terminals, the pilotage schedule and the characteristics of the tugs. “The objective behind the monitoring is to make the best decisions regarding the allocation of available resources – the AI ​​explores repetitive activities guided by the inputs of our operators and traffic monitoring systems”, he explains.

Not for nothing, the business unit estimates a reduction in operating costs with the use of this technology based on the reduction in fuel consumption and the optimization of the use of tugboats – tugboats. To give you an idea, the company does something around 60 thousand maneuvers a year – the AI ​​helps to quickly define and move the most suitable tug at the ideal time.

In general, the use of artificial intelligence in the sector is quite wide and it also occurs in an associated way, with the presence of other technologies. “The blockchain serves to streamline the issue of information, while big data can contribute to fuel efficiency, for example. AI provides great optimization in terms of fleets and cargo,” points out Elísio.

For Marcelo, the main opportunity generated by AI, in this context, is the possibility of investing in innovation and introducing solutions in business activities that impact the strategic objectives of the Wilson Sons tugboat business. “The difference can be seen in the use of historical data reserves and in the behavior of ports to support operators who make decisions in order to achieve maximum efficiency in the distribution of tugs,” he adds.

In a nutshell, the focus of artificial intelligence in this case is to eliminate unnecessary movements, making them occur at the appropriate time, and the tugs can navigate at economic speed, representing the shortest possible distance. Other facilities, such as the geolocation system and sonographic conditions, help to visualize the routes.

How did an artificial intelligence application for tugs optimize Wilson Sons’ operations?

The development of the tool occurs through Wilson Sons’ innovation laboratory – TugLab, which works with a multidisciplinary team and counts on the essential participation of business units and branches, with COR (Tug Operations Center) and with CAMWS (Maritime Improvement Center William Salomon).

In Marcelo’s view, he exemplifies the pioneering role in port support that is inherent to the company’s performance. “The tool started to be used in the beginning of 2020 in 3 different places: Rio de Janeiro, Vitória and Santos. The algorithm gains muscle as it receives data load, so in the coming months, we want to strengthen it and expand its scope to all terminals and ports assisted by our fleet of tugboats,” he reports.

As stated, Wilson Sons deals with a universe that exceeds the mark of 60 thousand maneuvers per year – there are many operations to manage. “The assistance that the AI ​​provides to our traffic operators through the application brings agility in the decision making and positioning of the tugs”, explains Marcelo.

In this way, some of the variable costs of the operation can be avoided, and the maneuver commitments will be fulfilled and maintained. After all, moving or maintaining tugboats in a specific region of the port can make all the difference – the technology, which covers and compiles numerous factors, is always very welcome in this process.

What are the prospects for artificial intelligence for the coming years?

According to experts, it will be possible to visualize the most notable impacts in repetitive activities, which present occasional variables, such as the maneuver of a ship that depends on the amplitude of the tide to occur. The feasibility of the optimization will happen through algorithms that manage to gather historical data in relation to the operation of the load and the maneuver time, as well as specificities of the mechanical resources (ships and tugs) and human involved.

“The industry may still have greater gains in operational efficiency with the support of technological tools, which have become much more accessible on cell phones or portable computers, increasing the security of operations continuously”, points out Marcelo.

For Elísio, it is important to pay attention to some challenges that will remain relevant in the future. “Working with a large amount of data tends to be challenging, because it is necessary to cross several types of information and build an algorithm from that. As everything is dynamic and the ports are different from each other, the solutions must be adaptable and understand the particularities of each place,” he says.

In more complex scenarios, such as a pandemic with unprecedented social and economic impacts, Wilson Sons believes that administrative teams in the home office and the operational front with reduced staff, acting on special scales, are essential practices to ensure the health of employees. Thus, artificial intelligence emerges as a force capable of mitigating the effects of contingency, enabling the continuity of operations with full efficiency and security.

In practice, AI can collaborate with the shipping industry by enabling the use of a wide range of tools for people to carry out their essential activities and for land and onboard teams to interact. With this, mandatory registrations, legal requirements, administrative activities and financial transactions can be performed remotely.

Anyway, an artificial intelligence application for tugs includes several positive points. With these technologies in hand, many operations can be optimized, generating even more advantageous results for the business. So be sure to consider including a tool like this in your routine.

Did you like the content and want to optimize your operations? Get in touch with Wilson Sons right now!