FernBin Reasearch Project Successfully Completed with Rhenus Group in Key Role – Heavy Lift News
27 May 2024

FernBin Reasearch Project Successfully Completed with Rhenus Group in Key Role

The Rhenus Group has played a key role in a remote-controlled, coordinated driving in inland navigation project and gained many insights for the future of inland shipping.

The “FernBin” Reasearch Project involved the remote-controlled, coordinated driving of the Ernst Kramer, a shallow-draught inland cargo vessel originally built in 1974 and now operated by local freight forwarder Rhenus Partnership, as a testbed. The vessel was equipped with numerous cameras and the necessary technical equipment for its new use.   

This included, for example, lidar technology, which is used to measure distances via laser scanning, as well as devices for controlling the systems and mobile radio transmission. The technology was tested on various practice runs in the port of Duisburg and on the Rhine-Herne Canal. Ten skippers steered the Ernst Kramer from one of the two control stations set up and practiced mooring, casting off, locking, as well as route and maneuvering from a distance. They were able to overcome their initial skepticism about the remote control station and the technology.

There was always a crew on board during the voyages so that they could intervene and take over the controls in an emergency.

One reason for the research project was the increasing shortage of skilled workers. Steering an inland waterway vessel from the office during the day and being with the family at the end of the day is a perspective that can make the inland waterway shipping profession more family-friendly and therefore more attractive.

Although a reduction in the number of personnel on board is not yet foreseeable, the operating time could be extended by remote control. The technology could also be helpful for training in the future.


Courtesy of FernBin.de


Ernst Kramer technical data:

  • Year of construction: 1974
  • Dimensions:
    • length: 104,97m,
    • width: 9.50m,
    • maximum depth: 3.15m,
    • depth empty: 0.731m
  • Inner dimensions of cargo hold: 78m x 7.36m
  • Main engine: Mitsubishi Heavy S16R-MPTA, 1170 kW 1600 rpm




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