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Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme e.V.

Working on future port technologies

Working on future port technologies

Being labelled the logistics world champion, Germany in general and North Rhine-Westphalia in particular are renowned for the high efficiency levels in the logistics processes. This strongly linked with the dense network of highways, railway connections, waterways, and inland ports.

In order to sustain and expand this position, the transport ministry of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) funds the establishment and launch of the so-called Port Research Lab. HaFoLa is built by the Development Centre for Ship Technology and Transport Systems and the Department of Mechatronics of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). With HaFoLa, the two partners are capable of developing new technologies from the level of fundamental research to proving the technical feasibility, which later are to be transferred into prototypes and solutions.

“Duisburg is a well-known location for its inland port, its logistics competence, and its inland navigation sector. This applies to the local industry as much as the research community in the city. The transport ministry acknowledges this and supports us actively”, says Cyril Alias, Department Head of Logistics & Transportation at DST, who has developed the idea and now acts as manager of the infrastructure project.

Apart from a test center, whose layout will resemble the one of a port including a port basin, quay walls, transshipment equipment as well as model inland vessels and containers, the research lab will include an experimental laboratory for future digitization projects. The Port Research Lab will enable DST and UDE to research on various port-related topics. such as berthing and mooring, loading and unloading, crane operations, and managing port resources.


HaFoLa will be built on the DST premises and consist of a test center and an experiment lab. © DST

From a mechatronics perspective, the possibilities opened up by advancing automation, machine learning, cyber-physical systems, and industry 4.0 in the realm of port and transshipment processes will belong to the core research fields. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Schramm, professor of mechatronics at UDE, sees huge potential in the gradual automation of the port, “It is inevitable in order to increase the efficiency and performance of German ports.”

The transport minister of NRW, Hendrik Wüst, welcomed the future-oriented efforts in Duisburg and personally handed over the grant approval to the consortium during a visit at DST. “Future mobility is digital, interconnected, and automated. We want Mobility 4.0 not only to be researched, developed, and tested in NRW, but also to be manufactured and applied early on.” Wüst explained. “Therefore, we will create excellent conditions for the development of autonomous inland navigation and fund the HaFoLa project” he added.


Transport minister Wüst hands over the grant agreement to the HaFoLa consortium. © VM.NRW / Mark Hermenau

HaFoLa is not a single measure at all: The Test and Control Centre Autonomous Inland Shipping, which is also situated at DST, has already been funded a year ago and is now ready for opening. “With the two new test centers, VeLABi and HaFoLa, two major facets of the holistic development of the fully-automated operation of inland vessels will stand by” Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bettar Ould El Moctar, Scientific Director of DST and professor of ship technology at UDE, emphasizes. Minister Wüst has also visited VeLABi and inspected the new test center during his visit at DST. VeLABi will be formally opened on 22 October 2020 in the presence of representatives of the transport ministry of NRW.


Transport minister Wüst visits VeLABi and test the digital chart table. © DST / Cyril Alias


Transport minister Wüst inspects the steering stand in the VeLABi projection system. © VM.NRW / Mark Hermenau


For further information, please contact

Cyril Alias
Department Head Logistics & Transportation
DST – Development Centre for Ship Technology and Transport Systems
Phone: + 49 – (0)203 – 99 369 52
Mail: alias@dst-org.de

DST institute director appointed as member of the innovation commission of federal transport ministry

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bettar Ould El Moctar, institute director of DST – Development Center of Ship Technology and Transport Systems and Chair of the Institute of Ship Technology, Ocean Engineering and Transport Systems of the University of Duisburg-Essen, has been appointed as one of 16 members of the innovation commission of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

Prof. Dr. Bettar Ould el Moctar (left), DST institute director, talking to Dr. Fabian Schulz, Ministry of Culture and Science North Rhine-Westphalia – (c) JRF e.V., photographer: Alex Muchnik

The innovation commission is coordinated by Mr. Steffen Bilger MdB, parliamentary undersecretary at BMVI and the German government’s freight transport and logistics coordinator. The commission provides technical advice for the realization and further development of logistics innovation program 2030 and meets once or twice a year.

As a means to safeguard Germany’s position as logistics world champion and innovation hub, the logistics innovation program 2030 encompasses ten areas with respective objectives and realization steps. The program contributes to ensuring the competitiveness and fostering climate protection. Apart from areas like “digital supply chain”, “future labor market”, and “innovative air freight”, the program presents objectives and measures for the area “innovative ports and waterways”, which again will be co-represented by Prof. Dr.-Ing. El Moctar.

Space@Sea – Subsystem demonstration for standardised floating platforms

For two weeks in January 2020, extensive model testing of the Space@Sea concept took place at DST’s shallow water basin.

The project aims to design multi-use, affordable and standardised floaters that can be assembled to large platforms with arbitrary sizes. Those platforms can serve different functions and applications, e. g. farming applications, living of humans at sea, energy harvesting and for transport & logistic operations.

Photo of the model tests at DST with three main modules in one line and the specific Wave-Energy Converter (WEC) floater (left). A PTO system is mounted between the main and WEC-floater to harvest energy. (Courtesy by Schuman, Daniel).

The test campaign at DST was conducted in the scope of work package 10 that deals with the demonstration and integration of developed subsystems in the work packages 4, 6 and 9. Leading the task 10.3, DST assessed the integrability and compatibility of applications together with the project partners NEMOS GmbH, Technical University of Delft and ICE Pronav Engineering. The assessment was twofold. First it comprises an overarching survey discussing technical requirements of individual generic functions and application specific issues. When individually developed systems are integrated into an entire platform concept, additional challenges are expected and assessed within the survey. In a second step the utilisation of physical models enabled quantitative testing of selected subsystems at the DST and the demonstration of developed strategies at the lab for autonomous ships and vehicles at the TU Delft.

For tests with different configurations of Space@Sea, physical models of the floaters were designed and built at a scale of 1:33.58. An optical tracking system measured the motions of individual modules. The two tested subsystems are the rigid module connector developed in work package 4 and the power take off system with an additional smaller floater for wave energy conversion of work package 6. The derived quantities cover relative motions between the bodies as well as forces acting on the rigid connector. It was concluded that the power take-off reaches expected promising efficiencies. The model of the rigid connector has shown to reach limiting strokes although the derived statistical distributions of forces acting on the connector do not challenge the design with respect to strength capacities. The results are used for the validation of numerical simulations as well as input for project partners to improve their designs in upcoming iterations.

Space@Sea is part of EU’s research programme Horizon 2020. Final results are to be expected by November 2020.


For more information and recent news please visit: https://www.spaceatsea-project.eu/about-space-at-sea

Duration: 3 years (until November 2020)

Contact persons at DST:
Dipl.-Ing. Jens Ley
Gerrit Assbrock M.Sc.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774253.

DeltaPort joins DeConTrans Advisory Board

In order to strengthen inland waterways as a reliable and efficient mode of transportation and to mitigate the risk of a gridlock on the road, DeltaPort Niederrheinhäfen GmbH (DeltaPort Lower Rhine ports) – an association of the ports in Rheinberg-Orsoy, Wesel, Voerde-Emmelsum, and Emmerich – has decided to support the research project “DeConTrans – Innovative concepts for decentralized waterborne container transport” coordinated by DST.

Being the first member of the newly established Advisory Board, DeltaPort will assist the consortium with advice and insight from industry and validate interim results from the various development threads. In order to formally conclude accession, the involved parties have signed a Letter of Intent in Wesel, Germany, on 20 January 2020. “We are driven by the impending threat of a gridlock”, Mr. Andreas Stolte, CEO of DeltaPort Lower Rhine ports, said.

In its cooperation with DST and the DeConTrans research project, DeltaPort will contribute ideas from their internal project “log4nrw” and combine those with DeConTrans. The project log4nrw targets the fine distribution of containerized goods and a multimodal network based on a smart design of a logistics network based on the West German canal system, the Rhine, and the rail network. This multimodal network is to generate new commodity flows in inland ports, exploit modal shift potential, and, thereby, stimulate growth. The synergies of both research initiatives are obvious, certainly leading to cross-fertilization of ideas.


Marking the future cooperation (from left to right): Cyril Alias (DST, Dept. Head Logistics & Transportation and Project Head DeConTrans), Michael Saal (RIF, Managing Director), Joachim Zöllner (DST, Board Member), Andreas Stolte (DeltaPort, Managing Director) and Christian Kleinenhammann (NIAG, Board Member)


The joint research project “DeConTrans” receives funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitization, and Energy of the German Federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the EFRE.NRW (2014-2020) Joint Research Funding Programme of the European Union, lead market competition “mobility & logistics”, under grant agreement EFRE-0801222 (ML-2-1-010A, DeConTrans).


For further information about the DeConTrans project, please visit https://www.dst-org.de/decontrans/

Contact person: Mr. Cyril Alias, +49 / (0)203 / 99 369 52

Test and Control Centre Autonomous Inland Shipping

The set-up of the new Test and Control Centre Autonomous Inland Shipping at the DST Development Centre of Ship Technology and Transport Systems has begun in October 2019. The new centre is built by three research partners – DST, University of Duisburg-Essen, and RWTH Aachen University – and forms the essential research infrastructure for the subsequent research and development activities around autonomous inland shipping.

The new centre encompasses

a modern, freely configurable control stand in a ship-piloting simulator with a 360-degree 3D projection system,

a control center with three workplaces for the coordination of the blended traffic with conventional and autonomous inland vessels, and

four workplaces for research scientists with the necessary computer equipment for the development of AI-based autonomous control systems.

The Test and Control Centre Autonomous Inland Shipping is expected to be inaugurated in March 2020.

The project receives funding from German Federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

DST presents its research and engineering portfolio

Germany’s largest trade fair about inland waterway transportation.

In September, this year’s “Shipping Technics Logistics 2019” trade fair took place in Kalkar. Germany. The DST presented the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of the city of Duisburg and other partners its service portfolio and research activities.

On the 24th and 25th of September the DST – Development Center for Ship Technology and Transport Systems exhibited at the fair Shipping Technics Logistics 2019 in Kalkar Germany. The associated institute of the UDE presented its portfolio of engineering services and research activities at a joint booth – i.a. represented by Chamber of Industry and Commerce of the city of Duisburg, the Short Sea Shipping Inland Waterway Promotion Center Germany, the Federal Association of German Inland Navigation e.V., the Federal Association of Public Inland Ports e.V., the German Shipbuilding and Marine Technology Association. V. and the Association for European Inland Navigation and Waterways e.V.
In addition, DST contributed to the exhibition program with two speeches: On the first day, Joachim Zöllner, board member of DST, talked about efficient inland waterway vessels. On the subsequent day, Dr.-Ing. Rupert Henn, managing director of DST, delivered a speech about “Autonomous driving in inland waterway transportation – dream and reality” on the 9th International Forum on Inland Waterway Transportation, which took place at the same venue.
The trade fair Shipping Technics Logistics 2019 is the only specialist trade fair on inland waterway transportation in Germany and attracts the most important stakeholders of the industry to Kalkar, Germany, every year.

Joachim Zöllner, DST board member, gives a talk about efficient inland waterway vessels

For further information, please contact: Cyril Alias, phone: + 49 (0)203 / 99 369 52, e-mail: alias(a)dst-org.de

Modal shift towards IWT in container transport on the way

Second milestone event in the research project DeConTrans.

The second milestone event of the research project “Innovative concepts for a decentralized waterborne container transport” (DeConTrans) took place in Duisburg on September 4th, 2019.

The project partners, DST – Development Center for Ship Technology and Transport Systems from Duisburg and RIF Institute for Research and Transfer from Dortmund, presented on a second milestoneevent of the Project DeConTrans on September 4th, 2019 interim results from the work streams of logistics, ship technology, port and handling technologies, information and communication technologies and discrete-event simulation.
The DeConTrans project pursues the goal of developing innovative vessel and handling concepts for a decentralized container transport which are to be integrated into existing information flows and transport chains. For that purpose, untapped potential and spare capacities are to be made accessible and exploited and, thus, an efficient integration into today’s transport and supply networks achievable.

In the anniversary edition of the DOCK.Hafenmagazin – the magazine of the port of Dortmund – published on the occasion of its 120th anniversary an interesting article about the DeConTrans project:
https://www.dortmunder-hafen.de/fileadmin/medien/dokumente/Prospekte_und_Infomaterial/DOCK_Sonderheft_2019.pdf (p. 31).

Researchers of DST and RIF at the DeConTrans milestone project meeting

Contact: Cyril Alias, Phone: 0203 / 99 369 52, E-Mail: alias(a)dst-org.de


14th OpenFOAM Workshop in Duisburg

From 23 to 26 July 2019 the 14th OpenFOAM Workshop took place in Duisburg. It was hosted by the Development Center for Ship Technology and Transport Systems (DST), the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Institute for Ship Technology, Marine Technology and Transport Systems (ISMT)

The Workshop included conference presentations, poster sessions and presentations of ongoing work and projects. In addition to the conference part, various trainings on OpenFOAM technology and other related software tools were offered on one day. The participants of the workshop came from users, developers as well as researchers.

Besides the presentation of scientific papers, the workshop offered the open source community a platform for open discussions and future project cooperations.


AISS 2019 – Autonomous Inland and Short Sea Shipping Conference

On 17 May 2019, the first conference on automated inland and coastal waterway navigation will take place in Duisburg. 


08:00 Registration
08:30 Opening: O. el Moctar/D. Schramm, University of Duisburg-Essen, NN: Ministry of transport NRW
08:45 D. Schramm: Automotive autonomous and assisted driving – Status and Challenges, University of Duisburg-Essen
09:10 A. Lutz: Trackpilot: First step toward autonomous sailing – case study and recent developments, Argonics
09:35 M. Kosch, D. Abel, R. Zweigel: Full-automatic river ferry: A concept overview, RWTH Aachen University
10:00 R. Ziebold1, A. Heßelbarth1, R. Raulefs1, M. Wirsing1, M. Sandler2, A. Lutz3, A. Lachmayer3, M. Hoppe4, T. Dettmann5, J. Zimmermann6, J. Alberding7, M. Uhlemann7Towards an automatic entering of inland waterway locks
1DLR, 2Innovative Navigation, 3Argonics, 4WSV Verkehrtstechnik, 5BAW, 6Weatherdock, 7Alberding
10:25 Coffee Break
10:55 S. Helling, M. Lutz, T. Meurer: Autonomous docking of marine vessels in constrained environments, Kiel University
11:20 C. Schyr: Validation of highly automated systems for inland vessels in a virtual test field, AVL Germany
11:45 S. Feuerstack1, A. Hahn2Validation and verification of assistant systems and highly automated ships,
1OFFIS Institute for Information Technology, 2University of Oldenburg
12:10 G. Chillcce, O. el Moctar: Mathematical models for manoeuvring of inland vessels, University of Duisburg-Essen
12:35 Lunch
13:30 P. Potgraven: Approach of the ministry of transport, infrastructure and watermanagement for smart shipping in the Netherlands, Ministry of Infrastructure and Watermanagement
13:55 A. Colling: The vessel train – Platooning on short seas and inland waterways, TU Delft
14:20 J. Merenluoto: One sea – Steps towards autonomous maritime transport systems, DIMECC
14:45 C. Kooij: Towards unmanned cargo ships: The effects of automating navigational tasks on crew levels, TU Delft
15:10 Coffee Break
15:30 S. Feldmann: Generative design of computer generated imagery scenarios for advanced training of neutral network algorithms, Hochschule Aalen
15:50 R. Henn: Impact of automated navigation on inland waterway transport, Development Centre for Ship technology and Transport Systems, Duisburg
16:15 O. Hamann, A. Kortenjann: Competence Centre for Autonomous Inland and Short Sea Shipping Rhein-Ruhr, Ruhr IHK
16:25 Closing: D. Abel, RWTH Aachen University; O. el Moctar, University of Duisburg-Essen

Further information can be found at https://aiss2019.com.


DST hosts “JRF on Site” Event about “Logistics in Transition”

EDRF-funded Research Project DeConTrans.

On April 10, 2019, the Johannes Rau Research Foundation (JRF) organized together with the DST – Development Center for Ship Technology and Transport Systems an event of its event-series “JRF on Site” at the DST in Duisburg discussing the topic “Logistics in transition: Modern concepts and technologies for interurban supply of North Rhine-Westphalia”. The DST presented its research project “DeConTrans”.

With its “JRF on Site” event-series, the Johannes Rau Research Community openes together with its research partners the very different think tanks in the region for trade visitors, in order to learn more about their working worlds and at the same time promote scientific exchange on various topics. On April 10, 2019, the affiliated institute of the UDE “DST – Development Center for Ship Technology and Transport Systems” in Duisburg opened its doors on the topic “Logistics in Transition”.

Various scientists and industry representatives presented results and insights from their respective research work, outlining a picture of change in the logistics industry. The presentations made it clear that digitization and the use of new technologies are the main drivers for the logistics industry in transition in particular, as well as new organizational approaches that are prerequisites for technological innovation.
Cyril Alias from DST presented the research project ‘DeConTrans’ and first results from it. The project pursues the development of innovative vessel and transhipment concepts for a decentralized container transport by using spare capacities and untapped potential on the waterways of the Rhine and the adjacent West German canal systems.


Prof. Dr. Bathen welcomes the guests at the JRF on Site event at DST

Representatives of industry and academia presented various logistics innovations

Break-out sessions about dedicated DeConTrans development tracks

The event ended with a snack and a tour of the experimental facilities of the DST and offered the guests the opportunity for personal exchange.

• Further information on the DeConTrans research project: https://www.dst-org.de/decontrans/
• Further information about the Johannes Rau Research Foundation: https://www.jrf.nrw/
• Contact: Cyril Alias, 0203 / 99 369 52, alias(a)dst-org.de




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Development Centre for
Ship Technology and Transport Systems

Oststr. 77
47057 Duisburg

Tel.: +49 (0)203 - 99 36 9 - 0
Fax: +49 (0)203 - 99 36 9 - 70

E-Mail: dst@dst-org.de