A sustainable society and climate change generate new questions about construction and hydraulic engineering, and the design and management of transport infrastructure. How can we ensure that we are affected as little as possible by climate change and how can we keep costs as low as possible?

Inland vessels are being transformed into high-tech data collectors. They will be collecting real-time data as they sail that will allow them to operate more efficiently in the future and to make the most of the space on the water. Information about fuel consumption, and predictions of water depths and headroom, will allow for even better estimates of how much cargo the vessels can take on. This results in the more efficient use of the vessels and the water, and cuts carbon emissions. But it is not only the inland shipping sector that benefits: the vessels are continuously collecting data about the river bed and water depths. River managers and dredgers can use these data – in combination with river models – to maintain and manage waterways.

CoVadem (Coöperatieve Vaardiepte- en performancemeting: cooperative sailing depth and performance measurement) is a joint initiative of the research institutes MARIN and Deltares, government and business with the aim of establishing a reliable and modern data & information service for the European inland waterway network and for all waterway managers and users.

In recent years, more than fifty inland vessels have been fitted out and tested with the CoVadem data infrastructure. With funding from the Logistics TKI (Dinalog) and a contribution from the inland waterway sector itself, the Co2Vadem+ follow-up project started recently. It will involve continuing work on the reliability and application of the measured sensor data by developing two information services: a water depth forecaster and a fuel consumption monitor. We will draw on our river knowledge and models relating to hydrodynamics and morphology so that the measurement data can be used to determine water depths and headroom, now and a few days ahead, for the Rhine between Rotterdam and Maxau. A fuel consumption monitor will also be developed to analyse and present fuel consumption as a function of various factors (keel clearance, cargo, sailing speed etc.). The two applications are important tools that will allow inland shipping companies to optimise performance further.

There is close and pleasant cooperation with the research institute MARIN and so the CoVadem initiative is establishing a direct link between the research side and market demand from the inland shipping sector. This makes CoVadem a wonderful example of how to create added value by linking knowledge about river engineering to transport and logistics.
Johan Boon & Rolien van der Mark
At MARIN, we optimise ships. The unique partnership with Deltares means that we can use CoVadem to enormously extend our understanding of the interaction with the river. With that understanding, we can do much more together than is possible alone. In that way, we make a joint contribution to effective services for shipping, waterway management and water management.
Meeuwis van Wirdum

For this project Deltares has collaborated with the following partners:

  • Rijkswaterstaat
  • Technische Universiteit Delft
  • Autena Marine
  • Bureau Telematica Binnenvaart
  • Danser Group
  • NPRC
  • Heuvelman Groep
  • Shipping Factory
  • ThyssenKrupp Veerhaven
  • BLN Schuttevaer
Infra johan

Want to know more about this project?

Johan Boon