Reducing emissions in the Port of Rotterdam with a digital twin

Resilient Delta’s mission is to be a global leader in the field of digital twin applications in the delta. An ambitious project is DigiPACT: developing a digital twin (a virtual representation) of the Port of Rotterdam. How can all processes, connections and movements in the port be mapped out, with the aim of making it more efficient and environment friendly? In other words, how can technology be used to reduce the movements in the port so that fewer emissions are produced and less energy is needed? This challenge is taken upon by Mark van Koningsveld, a scientist from the TU Delft who will build a first proof of concept together with a consortium of convergence partners, companies and local authorities.

More efficient and safer

“We don’t want the size or impact of the Port of Rotterdam to shrink; we want its emissions, or negative impact, to shrink,” says Rob Zuidwijk, Professor of Global Supply Chains and Ports at Erasmus University Rotterdam.  “The port always wants to expand and improve, which is a good thing. But what we want to avoid is that at some point they are held back by emission regulations.” Zuidwijk gives a recent example: “A construction project in the port that was supposed to ensure long-term sustainability was not allowed to go ahead because of nitrogen restrictions.”

A huge number of containers go in and out of our country. In DigiPACT, one of the things that is looked at is actions that may be superfluous. Zuidwijk: “We are investigating how logistics services can be developed so that services can be optimised. Through lack of information great uncertainties are built in. By using and connecting information more effectively, dredging can, for example, be tailored to the draught requirements. That will save time, money and emissions.”

We want to take new measurements, but also bring together scientific knowledge that is already there

Lex Burdorf

Erasmus MC

Professor in Determinants of Public Health

Better air quality

Lex Burdorf is Professor in Determinants of Public Health at Erasmus MC and is mainly concerned with health differences between groups, and the influence of the environment on health. “For DigiPACT, we will investigate, among other things, how much air pollution there is in Rotterdam, which sources contribute to it and how we can reduce it. We are looking at: what can port companies do and what can the shipping industry do, to improve the quality of the air for the population?”

A huge and up-to-date overview of all movements in the port, which can be used to eliminate unnecessary movements, is useful not only for Rotterdam, but for all ports in the world. Burdorf: “We are going to map out what the transport storms are, and how they affect each other. Interesting questions arise. Should containers be shipped to Germany via ships? Or rather via trucks? Which groups of residents are most or least affected? How can shipping develop in the future without further deteriorating air quality?”

Digital infrastructure

Little is known about air pollution in the port area, Burdorf says. Ships sail on poor quality fuel; is there anything that can be done about this? Will there be electric ships on the Nieuwe Maas in ten years? New measurements will be taken, but existing data will also be used better. And existing scientific knowledge will be brought together. Rob Zuidwijk: “We are going to build a digital infrastructure, so that everything can be coordinated better. So that better decisions can be taken, in the field of maintenance as well as nautical, inland shipping and health. That is why we need to collaborate with multiple disciplines.”

We are going to build a digital infrastructure, so that everything can be coordinated better

Rob Zuidwijk

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Professor of Global Supply Chains and Ports

This project gives an impression of the public-private partnerships that will be developed for Resilient Delta. Currently this project and the consortium is still under construction. Activities have yet to start. Interested in joining the consortium? Please reach out to the business developers of Resilient Delta.

Any questions?

Reach out to one of our business developers.

Michelle Damen

Innovations Manager