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Biological Transformation - For sustainable value generation

© Fraunhofer CML

In the course of evolution, biology has created a multitude of solutions for the most diverse challenges of natural living environments. As such, it serves as a model: With its „Biological Transformation“, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is striving for the increasing application of materials, structures and principles of living nature in technology with the aim of creating sustainable value.

Our EU-funded AIRCOAT project, for example, involves the development of a new type of hull coating for ships,  for which biology is a model. The special properties of the tropical floating fern Salvinia are used in the project. A foil imitating its properties is attached to the ship‘s hull and forms a thin layer of air when it comes into contact with water. This air lubrication effect reduces friction between the hull and the water, thus reducing pollutant and noise emissions. It also reduces biofouling processes and prevents the release of biocidal substances. The technology developed in the AIRCOAT project is an example of the successful application of bionics in industry and holds new opportunities for the marine coatings sector.

Another example is the BIOINSPACED project: the task of this project is to find biologically inspired approaches for the removal of space debris. The number of satellites and probes orbiting the Earth has grown rapidly in recent decades. Correspondingly, the number of defective objects, inoperable probes and satellites, or fragments after collisions has grown. This space debris endangers not only intact and future objects in Earth orbits, but also communications, weather services, and data collection on Earth. Additionally, it complicates manned spaceflight. ESA‘s Clean Space Initiative is therefore looking for solutions to the problem and has commissioned the CML to identify and analyze bionic concepts that can be used to collect the debris.

The bionic know-how that Fraunhofer CML has acquired in projects and use cases is also being made available to other companies in the maritime industry to examine conventional design and manufacturing methods for their biological transformation potential. CML experts examine new, innovative ways to improve products, increase efficiency, become more sustainable, or differentiate themselves from the competition. Nature as a creative solution provider: Bionics can steer thinking in entirely new directions and provide industry with unprecedented ideas. Find more information our offer here.

Innovative concept Water Cargo Barge brings goods to rivers and canals in Hamburg?

© by Kookay - FraunhoferCML

Transport chains and flows of goods change over time, follow the needs of industry and commerce, and react to changing framework conditions. This is what makes logistics so attractive for many industry players, because efficient solutions and sensible innovations quickly find their way into implementation. In addition to economic and regulatory motives, ecological ones are also playing an increasingly important role, for customers as well as for transport service providers.

Our new project WaCaBa - short for Water Cargo Barge - takes advantage of these general conditions. WaCaBa aims to strengthen water transport and cargo handling on Hamburg‘s inner-city waters. To this end, Fraunhofer CML is  conducting a feasibility study for the Hamburg Authority for Economy and Innovation BWI. This study examines the suitability of the waterways and develops concepts for cargo handling solutions and the operation of autonomous watercraft by determining the demand for transport in various market segments. Economical operation of the WaCaBa is the goal. The operation of the barges is intended to relieve inner-city roads and help reduce pollutant emissions from delivery traffic through modern propulsion  systems.

Other European cities with innercity waterways, such as Paris and Amsterdam, are already using barges in field trials to supply hotels and restaurants, for the CEP sector and other usage profiles. An important prerequisite for the use of barges is the  navigability of the waterways. Since many of them in Hamburg have been partially unused for years, their condition sets a tight framework for navigation and transhipment. And last but not least, the barges and the associated handling facilities are to be operated for different requirements - a tricky task that the CML, supported by scientists from Fraunhofer IML, has now taken on.

On the way to the autonomous ship? Automation in maritime shipping

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We often hear the question of when autonomous ships will be underway. This is difficult to answer, because in addition to the technological implementation, many different questions are affected by the realization, which have to be solved by politics, administration and jurisdiction. At the CML, we have already been working for 10 years on the development of technologies that advance the automation of maritime shipping since the initial EU-funded project MUNIN, a concept study on the challenges autonomous cargo ships must face. Our focus is on solutions that concentrate on monitoring, navigation and maneuvering support and are already applicable today.

Shore Control Station

The wide range of issues arising from the operation of an autonomous vessel already inspired the idea of deploying shore control stations in the MUNIN project. They should be able to monitor autonomously sailing ships from shore. By means of telemetry, relevant information about the current situation on board and  the condition of the ship can be mapped and thus monitored, from nautical information about the traffic situation at sea, weather and wave conditions to the operating  status of the machines and aggregates on board. In the event of a malfunction or a critical situation, a shore control station can take over and steer the ship safely. The CML researchers have developed a further development of this remote monitoring and control system together with the Korean shipyard DSME, because the data generated on board a ship are of great interest for timely evaluation on shore in conventional shipping as well.

Watch-free bridge

New technologies can also provide support to relieve nautical personnel of routine tasks and increase safety. Actively linking the steering system to digital nautical charts enables a safe course to be determined, taking into account the applicable rules of way usage and collision avoidance. A prerequisite for this is the use of an autonomous navigation system that picks up and evaluates signals from other ships and objects in the area via AIS, RADAR and camera systems, for example. In the event of a critical situation, the autonomous system can switch to an assistance mode or semi-autonomous operation and, by means of an alarm signal, make a proposal to the watchkeeping nautical officer for course or speed changes in accordance with the collision avoidance rules and adapted to the situation. Such a navigation system for a „watch-free bridge“, that involves the nautical staff only when decisions are required, is being developed by the CML in the B ZERO project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Maneuver Support

Autonomous docking and casting off maneuvers of large ships are not to be expected in the near future. The nautical and navigational requirements, which today are competently mastered by professionals such as pilots and tugboat captains, are  too complex. Nevertheless, those responsible in the port see potential in digital support for these processes, because employment on tugs is dangerous and requires extensive know-how and experience, and, as in many other areas, there is a lack of junior staff to safely care for a growing number of ships with comparable intensity as before. One solution to the situation may lie in the operation of remotely operated tugs: The valuable resource of „tug personnel“ stays ashore and controls the tug with the aid of virtual reality (VR). In addition to the gain in safety, personnel resources can be used more effectively, because the previously required travel times on the tugs can be used for the maneuvers of increasing ship arrivals. In the FernSAMS project, the CML has set new standards with the development of such a VR control system, together with project partners from industry and science. The project, led by Voith GmbH, has just been presented at the National Maritime Conference and has attracted a lot of attention there. Even if the question of the realization of the autonomous ship has not now been definitively answered: research is working in various areas on the development of assistance systems that will make maritime shipping easier and safer. They have the potential to increase the efficiency of scarce and expensive resources and increase the productivity of maritime shipping. And that in the near future.


© C. Steinweg (Süd-West Terminal) GmbH & Co. KG
Terminal Operating Systems improve the productivity of a wide range of handling processes.

Artificial intelligence for port terminals - Current market overview published

© FraunhoferCML

High handling capacities, new technologies and rising customer demands are creating an increasingly competitive situation among terminal operators. The COVID 19 pandemic has turned the planning of many terminals upside down with new insecurities and unsure expectations. 

The changing environment places high demands on Terminal Operating System (TOS) providers.

TOS are complex IT solutions that control and document terminal operations to optimize handling efficiency within a terminal. In order to adapt to the new needs and requirements of their customers, TOS providers must continuously develop their products. 

With the goals of highlighting trends, creating transparency, and helping terminal operators make decisions about the best TOS for them, Fraunhofer CML is now publishing „Terminal Operating Systems 2021,“ the fourth edition of a market overview.

A number of innovations over the past decade have made TOS more productive worldwide. Extensive data collection by technical and IT systems on terminals lays the foundation for the use of artificial intelligence. The goal-oriented data analysis enables immense possibilities for gaining specific information and optimizing processes. More and more providers and users of TOS are beginning to take advantage of this enormous potential. They expect AI to open up opportunities for better coordinated and more efficient operations, lower energy consumption and seamless communication.

For this reason, the use of AI in TOS is a key focus in this year‘s study. In addition, the study provides detailed information about the systems on the market today and presents their respective performance characteristics and modules in a clear and comparable manner. The study thus also provides a basis for selection and decision-making processes.

The study „Terminal Operating Systems 2021“ is available in English. You will find all the information you need to obtain the study here.

Hydrogen - Added value for the maritime industry and logistics

© © AA+W -
Das Fraunhofer CML forscht an Speicherung, Umschlag und Transport „grünen“ Wasserstoffs.

According to experts, hydrogen will play a central role in Europe‘s energy supply before the end of this decade. The young hydrogen industry aims to synthesize a versatile energy carrier from a free raw material using surplus energy. The drivers of this energy and transport revolution are placing great hopes in particular in green hydrogen, i.e. hydrogen produced with renewable energies. The focus is mostly on production and utilization potentials, rarely on transport, handling and (intermediate) storage - and this is exactly where the Fraunhofer CML comes in with new projects. 

A look at the end of the decade: The maritime supply chain begins far offshore. According to the power-to-X principle, hydrogen is produced partly directly at sea (offshore) using northern German wind power and electrolysers. From there, it is transported by bunker ships to ports, where it is fed into a hydrogen network and supplied to industry and heavy goods traffic.

The location of northern Germany also offers good conditions for this scenario because of its high-performance maritime industry, the know-how for setting up the offshore production sites, the transport and transhipment on land, and the potential large-scale consumers in the form of industry and maritime shipping. 

In a certain sense, the maritime industry has a dual role to play in the transformation: It must not only become part of global hydrogen logistics and build up corresponding infrastructures (also for imports) in ports and fleets, i.e., in addition to maritime transport, it must also develop solutions for transshipment in ports and for transport inland. 

Shipping itself, as an emitter of CO2 (responsible for nearly 3 percent of global emissions) and pollutants, must also become more sustainable. The CML is collaborating on various solutions in both areas. 

Among other things, Fraunhofer CML supports companies in the identification as well as the practical implementation of possible applications of hydrogen, both in maritime transport and in hinterland logistics. To this end, it has conducted a current study together with other Fraunhofer institutes. This study examines the prerequisites for the supply chain of a hydrogen economy that is to be established - as well as its transport requirements in terms of production, transport and use. It also serves as a preliminary stage for developing the necessary technologies or services for companies in their individual demand scenarios. This should enable them to actively shape the future market.  

The manufacturing industry itself is also increasingly exploring the possibilities of decarbonizing its production. In a project on hydrogen logistics, CML employees are modeling and evaluating logistics chains for hydrogen transport to an industrial company inland, taking particular account of transport-related energy losses. Transport and logistics costs are considered a decisive factor for the competitiveness of hydrogen  - transport losses and the connection to the industry are still considered weak points.  

Another starting point for using hydrogen in maritime logistics is synthetic marine fuels. To this end, the Fraunhofer Alliance for Transport, with the participation of the CML, is organizing a Digital Session on March 25, 2021. On the topic of „Hydrogen-based Fuels in the Maritime Industry,“ a panel of experts will explain the status and promising developments of hydrogen technologies in shipping (see „Dates“). Keynote presentations will address hydrogen engines, the development of hydrogen systems and the expected market development. A discussion with the participants on the most promising developments is explicitly encouraged.

Over the course of the still young decade, a hydrogen economy will become established, in which several sub-sectors of the maritime supply chain will play a decisive role, that much is certain. Maritime companies should now address the question of how they can align their business fields to this and help shape the transformation. This will give them the opportunity to position themselves in the market at an early stage, to help shape what is on offer, and to benefit from the value chain. 



SCEDAS® - Workforce Planning. Mathematically Optimized.

© GettyImages - anucha sirivisansuwan
Workforce planning can be optimized with mathematical algorithms.

With the SCEDAS® software suite, you benefit froma crewing solution that has proven itself overmany years not only in practice fromthe container to the cruise industry, but also in application areas beyond themaritime domain.

SCEDAS® offers individual support for short-termpersonnel deployment by determining and proposingmathematically optimized, detailed crew demands and deployment plans. It offers decision-making support for strategicmanagement decisions as well as for a dynamic crew scheduling onboard. Task-based time tracking onboard the vessels creates the required data foundation. This allows insightful data analysis, that enables the company- specific configuration of SCEDAS®.

SCEDAS’ approach to workforce planning increases the ability to plan for seafarers,minimizes incompliance to rest regulations and thus increases the safety of ship operation. Its solutions create transparency within the company and provide a data-driven basis of discussion, which guarantees the quality requirements of customers and reduces costs at the same time.

Find out more about SCEDAS® in our brochure


© Fraunhofer IML
The Internet of Things enables more efficient and sustainable processes in the port.

Internet of Things: The invisible Network in the Port

In a modern overseas port like Hamburg, it is not easy to keep track of things. Complex logistics chains from sea transport to goods handling in the port to the hinterland connection require the coordination of countless sub-steps and participants. Frictional losses are hardly avoidable - at least so far. 

What seemed unsolvable for a long time is now made possible by the so-called Internet of Things (IoT): the digital networking of many individual parts of a system with each other, which then exchange fixed information directly, automatically and in real time. Devices or vehicles communicate by means of small processors and embedded sensors. For example, they can communicate their locations to each other. With appropriate programming, devices, machines and systems can autonomously accept and process previously defined tasks.

The I2PANEMA research project („Intelligent IoT-based Port Artefacts Communication, Administration & Maintenance“) is exploring the framework conditions of digitized ports (smart ports). The project will test under real conditions how ports can become more efficient and environmentally friendly by digitizing processes using IoT. 

This is to be piloted and proven by a series of application experiments in selected business scenarios. The research and development teams are working together with port authorities, ship owners, telecommunications companies and intermodal terminal operators. Specifically, the project will work with the HPA (Hamburg Port Authority), DeltaPort, Bayernhafen, DSW21 (Dortmunder Stadtwerke) and other European project partners to develop IoT applications in the ports of Hamburg, Wesel, Dortmund, Nuremberg, Gijon (Spain) and Derince (Turkey) and derive an IoT reference architecture. In this architecture, self-steering container stackers, intelligent light masts and autonomous gantry cranes will be optimally interlinked - thanks to IoT. The self-steering container in agile logistics chains is also reflected in this vision of seamless IoT interoperability of European 

seaports, which could culminate in a network of smart ports or fully digitized ports. The networking of all these components would not be possible without IoT. The I2PANEMA project is now collecting findings on how to optimize the interaction in the respective digital „ecosystem“ and how to evaluate the information gained.

The dashPORT project - short for „Port Energy Management Dashboard“ - pursues another approach to digitizing port operations. Here, the focus is on previously unused potential for saving energy. This has two positive effects at once, since emissions can be saved in addition to immense costs.

In order to record the electrical consumption of all relevant consumers in the entire port environment in detail and in real time at the terminal, around 500 digital remote-readable electricity meters are currently being installed. The measured values are transmitted by IoT and continuously evaluated and processed by Machine Learning. By determining and displaying the power consumption in a central, clear dashboard, dashPORT enables the more conscious use of energy-intensive consumers and the saving of avoidable energy consumption. In addition to preparing information for easier evaluation by the user, the algorithms can reliably forecast consumption peaks, which result, for example, from knowledge of upcoming ship arrivals and the associated handling activities. This makes energy management in the port more transparent and easier to control.

Despite all the new possibilities for digitizing ports, one challenge remains: To ensure smooth communication within the entire complex IoT system so that compatibility within the overall system works. The savings potential through leaner logistics processes using automation and smart measurement technology is enormous, but this requires a common technical standard for IoT applications. For successful networking and information transfer, all components must have appropriate interfaces and the data formats must be coordinated. This will allow port and terminal operators in the future to improve the efficiency of work processes in ports and thus increase their goods turnover, manage port traffic better and more securely and reduce emissions (noise, light, air, water). The presented projects at the Fraunhofer CML drive these approaches.

New Insights through KI Use - Optimization Potentials for Empty Containers

The timely provision of empty containers at the respective place of loading is a crucial component of global supply chains. According to current estimates, the associated transport costs alone are in the region of 20 billion USD per year. At present, the Fraunhofer CML and its project partner xChange, a leading global logistics marketplace for the brokerage of sea containers, are investigating how artificial intelligence can help to effectively reduce these costs.

The goal is to predict a Container Availability Index developed with machine learning techniques, which will serve logistics companies, freight forwarders and shipping companies as an information basis for planning and controlling container transports. Under the project title C-TIMING the project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

First project results show that often already a targeted analysis of the existing data - in this case several million container journeys - reveals correlations from which savings potentials can be derived directly. In particular, the focus here was on additional costs in the event of late return of containers to the inventory of the respective shipping company. The analysis shows that in practice these often avoidable costs quickly reach four-digit figures for the individual company. For a cost-minimizing strategy, the large regional differences with regard to „demurrage & detention“ (demurrage in port and costs for late return of empty containers) should be used. 

The analysis and evaluation methods used in C-TIMING for large data volumes are universal and can be applied to many problems. We would be pleased to support you in the focused evaluation of existing data and identification of cost reduction potentials with the key technology Machine Learning and in the determination of suitable key figures and realizable findings for your company. 

The Autonomous Research Boat SeaML - Research Platform for Maritime Innovations

© Fraunhofer CML
Tests of the numerous sensor technology and the ROV confirm the performance of SeaML.

+++ UPDATE: View here a vidoe which shows our research boat SeaML in action:

Our first research boat is an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) and is called SeaML. SeaML is equipped with autonomous assistance and navigation systems and serves as a modular development and demonstration platform for various innovations in nautics, sensor technology and maritime technologies in general. 

The research boat is a catamaran with the dimensions 1.5m length and 1.2m width. The hulls are connected by a superstructure which serves as a flexible carrier for different technologies. SeaML has a payload of 40 kg and can therefore be equipped with extensive sensor technology, e.g. for high-precision depth measurement, environmental data acquisition and an underwater vehicle (Remotely Operated Vehicle, ROV). A web-based user interface has been specially developed for SeaML‘s mission planning, with which graphically supported services and work tasks can be defined, orders can be started and monitored, and the controller can be accessed. Thus, SeaML services can be requested and supervised from any location. The ROV is connected to a camera and further sensor technology with SeaML via a cable.

The first missions carried out with SeaML this summer included the development of innovative services for ports and the testing of a new type of hull coating: Robot-supported underwater inspections and automated real-time hydrographic measurements as a preliminary step to avoid groundings were successfully carried out. SeaML also served as a carrier for innovative communication technology and sensor systems of project partners. In addition, SeaML supported the observation of results under driving conditions as a test vehicle for an air-holding foil which reduces friction between the hull and water and thus reduces fuel consumption. 

With SeaML‘s in-house development we have created a flexible platform that can be used for a wide range of different research tasks, supports our current projects and can be adapted for the development of new ideas and concepts. The next stage of development will be the combination with a flying drone, which SeaML can use as a take-off and landing platform to gain a higher range and to offer air-based innovative services like inspection or surveillance. A special challenge will be the realization of a collection mechanism for maritime waste, whose miniaturized prototype will be tested with SeaML.

A second, larger SeaML is already being planned and will expand the CML fleet next year.


© Aleksandr Marko -
Satellites collect and transmit a variety of data, also for maritime applications.

Use of unmanned surface vessels - Unrealistic hype or feasible solution?

Autonomous shipping is a topic of increasing relevance. For years, researchers at CML have been addressing its challenges and have set new standards in autonomous control as well as in digital information acquisition and analysis. As yet, no Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) has been deployed that can reliably withstand the harsh conditions at sea over the long term. But intensive effort is being done on its development. Together with Raytheon Anschütz, CML has been working on the development of potential applications for small USV within the scope of a feasibility study. While the technical concept development was carried out by Raytheon Anschütz, the CML evaluated the economic efficiency of possible areas of application for USV and also identified user requirements for these services.

Decisive for the further development work is the acceptance of the market: Interviews of CML researchers with maritime stakeholders have shown that the collection of data and information about vessels, maritime infrastructures or the marine environment can be an important application area for USV.  With their support, maintenance processes can be made more efficient and maritime and environmental safety can be increased. The use of USV as a launch and landing platform for drones is also a way to expand the operational circle of flight systems in the maritime environment. Last but not least, USV can perform transport tasks „on demand“, for example to offshore facilities. The USV could be monitored from land, an offshore facility or a mother ship.

The concept development was supported by ESA‘s ARTES program, which promotes the development, implementation and pilot operation of integrated applications that should lead to sustainable services. The general approach of the program is to develop services that rely on space data (e.g. satellite images, satellite AIS or satellite communication data).

Visualizing Power Consumption on Terminals and Reducing Energy Costs and Emissions

Electricity consumption at cargo handling terminals is high and varies greatly depending on the operation.  It has financial and environmental implications and challenges for network operators and users. This is reason enough to analyze the situation in detail and improve it with the help of digital solutions.

In the dashPORT project - short for „Port Energy Management Dashboard“ - the companies Niedersachsen Ports and the transhipment company J. Müller in Brake are now supported by Fraunhofer CML and OFFIS - Institute for Information Technology in setting up an energy consumption monitoring system. In order to record the consumption of all relevant consumers in the entire port environment in detail and in real time on the terminal, about 500 digital remotely readable electricity meters will be installed. Their readings can be continuously evaluated and processed using machine learning. One focus lies on the largest consumers, e.g. the grain handling of J. Müller AG and the operation of crane systems and lighting through Niedersachsen Ports.

The aim of dashPORT is the more conscious use of energy-intensive consumers and the saving of avoidable energy consumption. In addition, dashPORT will predict power consumption and consumption peaks resulting from the knowledge of upcoming ship arrivals and the associated handling activities.  

With the implementation of dashPORT, the Port of Brake can actively contribute to environmental protection, make energy consumption and thus emissions more efficient and participate in relieving the electricity market by reducing peak loads. This also pays off financially for the companies: Savings of 10% are expected in the area of electricity consumption.  

DashPORT is funded over three years by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure‘s IHATEC funding program for innovative port technologies.

Staff Planning 2.0: At the Right Place, at the Right Time

© chokniti -
Die Personalplanung 2.0 optimiert Arbeitsprozesse und den zugehörigen Personaleinsatz.

Shipping and maritime logistics are highly efficient and sophisticated systems. Many formerly very labor-intensive processes in maritime transport and goods handling have now been digitized and automated. As a result, many workplaces look completely different and many employees are now responsible for extensive and complex tasks. To coordinate them efficiently is the task of staff planning 2.0. 

Technological progress makes us forget many of the hardships of the old days of shipping, but also creates new challenges. Over the years, ship crews have become smaller and smaller due to efficiency requirements and technical innovations of the ships. One example: HMM Algeciras, a cargo ship with a length of about 400 meters and a capacity of 23,964 TEU, has a crew of only 23 persons. These few officers and sailors must be optimally deployed to ensure trouble-free ship operation. Perfect planning is essential here in order to distribute the workload evenly among the crew members, in compliance with legal requirements, and to ensure that the right person with the right training is optimally deployed at the right time. 

Challenges in staff planning and workforce management

Reduced crew resources on the ships may pose compliance risks for shipping companies, for example, when it comes to observing the prescribed rest periods. In addition, large handling volumes and short lay times of merchant ships have led to a higher workload for the crew in recent decades. 

These new conditions, in combination with legal regulations and administrative efforts, make it difficult to assess staff requirements based on knowledge and experience alone. Added to this is the special circumstance that the crew on board is responsible for both operation and maintenance of the ship. Consequently, maintenance management is closely intertwined with staff deployment planning. The challenge is to consider the interdependencies between maintenance, operation and crew management in ship management.

Even small unforeseen incidents, not to mention a pandemic, quickly throw everything back into confusion. A flexible system is needed to be able to react agilely to such developments without spending a lot of time on planning alone. 

Smart support

Paper-based planning processes are no longer suitable for meeting these challenges. Today, computer-based information management systems play a key role. Therefore, Fraunhofer CML has developed the software tool SCEDAS®, which calculates mathematically optimized schedules and calculates voyage and ship specific crew requirements. It is already in use on container ships and bulk carriers worldwide and is constantly being further developed. It covers various areas of application in staff deployment planning. Among other things, it supports planners with the help of mathematical optimization techniques in calculating detailed work plans for each individual seafarer and takes into account the imponderables typical for the industry by using sophisticated planning algorithms to constantly update the work plan in real time during the voyage. 

To better manage the simultaneity of maintenance and operations for the crew, the latest development of SCEDAS® includes a data-based decision support system for maintenance and management. It helps to plan maintenance work efficiently and in accordance with regulations, taking into account the voyage-specific workload of the crew and taking into account the requirements of company policy, classification societies and legal regulations. CML develops the exact requirements for the software solution individually tailored to the needs of each customer. Thus, with SCEDAS®, every user receives a company-specific taff planning system.

Application in other industries

SCEDAS® was developed for maritime applications, but is also suitable for staff management in other areas. The question of the correct deployment of employees, especially in highly specialized fields, is familiar to many companies. The program can be used where personnel scheduling must take into account factors such as availability, skills and authority of employees, right up to legal regulations. More information about SCEDAS® can be found at


© Fraunhofer CML
The analysis of data for weather routing is relevant for a safe and efficient voyage.


Trucks arriving at terminal gates in an uncoordinated manner, difficulties in manning the crew on board in the right number and with the required qualifications, ships lying at achorage after weeks of sailing - in the maritime transport chain, frictional losses and inefficiencies can lead to avoidable costs and reduced productivity. In many cases, a targeted analysis of existing information reveals weaknesses and optimization potential. We at Frauhofer CML accept this challenge and develop solutions for practical applications. 

Maritime companies accumulate digital data in many different forms and formats in their business activities - sometimes systematically, sometimes unintentionally. The data come from various sources, for example from ship sensors or fleet management systems, and additionally navigational and technical operation data are available. Much of this data often lies unnoticed and scattered on the servers, but it can be used to gain capital for optimizing  further operations. After all, the correctly assembled combination of this data provides information that can form an important basis for future decisions. 

Customized data evaluation 

The Fraunhofer CML has the competence and the methodology to analyze and interprete data in a targeted manner. Because even though much can be done with algorithms in data analysis, the art lies in knowing how to prepare the data. This requires process knowledge. By recognizing similarities and patterns in data sets, for example, an unmanageable database can be categorized and made accessible. However, apart from the question of what data is available or how to access it, entrepreneurs often have no concrete idea of the benefits that data analysis can bring. Especially in maritime logistics there are many areas of application. 

Optimized truck handling 

Data can be used, for example, to better forecast truck arrival times and thus improve traffic flow in the port. For this purpose, the Fraunhofer CML developed a model that uses a digital image of the handling processes of logistics nodes such as port terminals to achieve optimized handling by predicting truck arrivals. This method uses historical and current data and is based on an artificial neural network, which can take into account further influencing factors in the form of so-called predicted values. This can reduce planning uncertainties and achieve optimal truck scheduling for terminals, forwarders and truckers, which reduces avoidable costs. 

Flexible crew planning on board 

In another project, the software solution SCEDAS® was developed to plan the deployment of personnel on board a ship efficiently and in accordance with legislative regulation as well as company specific rules, using mathematical optimization methods. In addition to the special demands of a specific voyage on the crew and their qualifications, SCEDAS® takes into account legal requirements and thus supports the complex task of crew management on land and on board. In the meantime, the SCEDAS® crewing software has been further developed so that maintenance and service tasks are integrated optimally in the work schedule. 

Safe and efficient sea voyages 

The analysis of data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which among other parameters transmits position, speed and course data of ships at sea, enables route optimization and the forecast of ship arrivals. Based on historical data (AIS has been used by all merchant ships since 2002), optimal voyages can be determined, but also critical sections with heavy traffic can be identified where increased attention by nautical officers is required. The correlation of AIS data with weather data allows improved up-to-date route optimization, which can significantly increase the safety and efficiency of a voyage. 

Talk to us! 

These are just a few examples from the maritime industry where data analysis has been able to create added value for our customers. In further projects the evaluation is also always user-oriented and driven by the question: How can the analysis help the customer to optimize his decisions, or how can he use his data in a meaningful way?


© Fraunhofer CML
Locations of the EMSN Ship Handling Simulators

The European Maritime Simulator Network, or EMSN Connect for short, has been running for over two years, mainly as a platform for nautical training and testing of new maritime applications in ship control and communication. 10 partners with more than 40 ship handling simulators  are now members of the network. EMSN Connect links the virtual ships in a common simulation environment. In this way, complex and realistic traffic situations can be designed and driven in real time. The expansion of the European network towards Asia is due to the success of the EMSN. The Asia-Pacific Maritime Simulator Network APMSN integrates further simulators in South Korea. In February 2020, the Korea Research Institute Ships & Ocean Engineering (KRISO), Chalmers University of Technology/ Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (Chalmers) and Fraunhofer CML wer e able to conduct the first global simulation in EMSN and APMSN. A ship steered by Chalmers was assisted by a Korean pilot at KRISO in a port arrival and berthing scenario at Busan port. The pilot‘s instructions were carried out by the „crew“ in Sweden. In its role as technical coordinator of the EMSN, the CML controlled the technical setup of the successful simulation. During running simulations, EMSN Connect collects all quantitative data of a maneuvre. Qualitative information can be collected e.g. by interviewing  simulation participants or by external expert evaluations. This provides an important opportunity to evaluate a simulated maneuvre in retrospect and to identify potential for improvement for more safety, efficiency and sustainability of maritime transport. The EMSN was developed in the European funded research project MONALISA 2.0. At that time, the CML for the first time connected ship handling simulators from different manufacturers for the implementation of joint maneuvers. This allows virtual ships to interact with each other from different locations and ship handling simulators and allows scenarios to be tested that could not be replicated in the real world. Read more about EMSN Connect at emsn.connect.


© videotrinkets -
No contradiction: Seafaring romance and digitalization on the high seas.


© alphaspirit -
Efficient infrastructures enable digitalization on land and at sea.

Innovation leap watchfree bridge

The major challenges facing maritime transport include coping with the growing volume of trade, improving maritime safety, economic efficiency and environmental friendliness. In the course of advances in information technology, these challenges have led to the rapid development of autonomous technologies. Within the framework of the BMWi-funded research project B ZERO, the Fraunhofer CML is now developing a sensor and navigation system in cooperation with Wärtsilä SAM, Hoppe Bordmesstechnik, NautilusLog, Reederei Bernhard Schulte, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency and the Fraunhofer FKIE. The system should be able to guide a ship autonomously between defined departure and arrival points, so that manning the bridge around the clock is not necessary. The Fraunhofer CML will develop an artificial intelligence or autonomous navigation by using reinforcement learning in B ZERO. With reinforcement learning a system can train meaningful decision guidelines without prior knowledge, only by results or responses to its actions. Reinforcement Learning is already used at CML in the fields of  object recognition and robotics, and supports the anticipatory avoidance of collisions and grounding in nautical situations. The AI, which will later take over autonomous navigation in B ZERO, is trained at the CML by simulating nautical scenarios with different parameters such as number of approaching ships, sea area, visibility and weather conditions. The decision component to be trained, e.g. collision avoidance, knows the required state of these given conditions and reacts with the learned, appropriate voyage and/ or course changes to ensure a safe passage on a route. The expected result is a prototype system, which will be further developed in the simulation laboratory environment of the CML and validated by future tests on board a cargo ship. 

Efficiency boost in image recognition

Great potential for maritime logistics results from the use of AI supported image recognition, or computer vision in short. In addition to the acquisition of digital images, it enables their processing into highly compressed numerical information that can be further processed by machines. Computer vision is thus a key technology for the automated observation of conditions and the detection of changes. These capabilities enable a wide range of applications in the maritime sector. In maritime shipping, for example, many autonomous manoeuvres depend on the permanent, simultaneous and reliable situational awareness that computer vision enables. Gradual changes, such as erosion of quay walls or deformations of a ship‘s hull, can be detected by computer vision, as can the position of cargo units on board or at the terminal. The CML supports companies in the maritime industry in  identifying and exploring the individual possibilities of computer vision. As part of the COOKIE project, which is funded by the IHATEC programme, a visual damage recognition and image-based repair prognosis of empty containers is being developed using artificial intelligence. This will not only ensure compliance with applicable security standards, but also make inspection procedures at the terminal gate more efficient. In addition to computer vision, the CML has a broad spectrum of expertise in the field of machine learning and offers comprehensive solutions for AI supported forecasting and assistance systems, from proof-of-concept to implementation.


In the ISI-Plan project, the CML and its partners develop a software tool for planning intermodal transport terminals. The tool combines the proven planning environment visTable of Plavis GmbH and the simulation capacities of Enterprise Dynamics of INCONTROL GmbH. The CML has analyzed and formulated the requirements for the software: With the ISI-Plan software it will be possible to determine the dimensions of the facilities in terms of areas, cranes, path networks, parking areas, transfer positions and number of vehicles for vertical and horizontal transshipment and to test the performance of the facility under these premises. For this purpose, the expected timetables, the expected modal split and the expected loading units by type are entered as auxiliary conditions and the terminal is thus sketched. The ISI-Plan software can map both bimodal and trimodal terminals. The software enables terminal operators and planners to quickly execute operating scenarios and examine them by means of simulation. Investments can thus be analyzed in advance. Up to now, the planning of facilities has mainly been based on existing  experience in terminal operation. With ISI-Plan this knowledge is made available to users in a mathematically validated form. ISI-Plan thus makes an important contribution to the transfer of freight traffic to rail and inland waterways. The Fraunhofer CML coordinates the ISI-Plan project, which is funded within the „KMU-innovativ“ program.


© S. Sosnowski, TU München
In the future, robots with artificial intelligence could clean the sea floor.

Autonomous surface and underwater vehicles represent a constantly growing research area at the CML. Now, with SeaClear, a new ambitious EU research project with participation of the CML aims to use these vehicles to identify and collect marine litter from the sea. Today‘s oceans contain many millions of tons of waste, of which more than 90% is found on the sea floor. So far, efforts to collect the waste are mainly concentrated on surface waste, while little effort is being made to collect underwater waste. A research team of eight partners from Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, France and Romania is now working to develop SeaClear. The goal of SeaClear - an acronym for „SEarch, identificAtion, and Collection of marine LittEr with Autonomous Robots“ - is to develop and deploy autonomous robots for waste disposal. This includes the identification and mapping of objects on and under water as well as new developments in robot control. When the SeaClear system is fully operational, it is expected to detect and classify underwater waste at 80% and collect it with a success rate of 90%. The SeaClear project will  involve a mixed team of unmanned underwater, surface and aerial vehicles to find and collect litter from the seabed and from the water column, focusing on coastal areas since that is where waste inflow concentrates. The aerial and underwater robotics will be used for mapping the litter, aiming to establish correlations between surface and underwater litter. Finally, combined suction-gripper manipulators will be used for the collection. The developed system will be tested in two case studies in the port of Hamburg and in a tourist area in Dubrovnik. SeaClear receives 5 million Euros in funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The central tasks of the CML are the technical coordination and integration of the overall robotic system. In this context, the hardware and software infrastructure as well as the interfaces for data exchange between the robot vehicles and a land control centre are designed and implemented. The reliable and robust transmission of information is a decisive prerequisite for the land control centre to be able to control the deployment, navigation and monitoring of the unmanned vehicles later on. Read more about Sea-Clear at