Each of the concrete and steel wharfs at the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest shipping hub, hosts the loading and unloading of billions of dollars in goods over its useful life. Managing and maintaining these waterfront structures so that the world’s largest cargo containers can dock at them means the difference between collecting revenue and watching ships sail elsewhere.
The scale of this challenge becomes clear when you look at a map of the Netherlands coast. The port snakes along a 42-kilometer stretch of the Nieuwe Mass tributary system, with the tail near the historic city center and the mouth jutting westward into the North Sea. An expansion called Maasvlakte 2, which reclaimed land from the North Sea, opened for business in June; it gives the port a land and water footprint about twice the area of Manhattan.
So it makes sense when Erwin Rademaker, a program manager at the port, explains that his team worked for several years to develop PortMaps, a georeferenced asset management system. It tracks locations of ships in transit as well as fixed assets including quay walls, railways, roads, energy pipelines, buildings, shipping terminals and more.