Improving Marine Situational Awareness in One of the World’s Biggest Ports - Jebel Ali

Cybernetica delivered a state-of-the-art port radio communication system to the port of Jebel Ali, a TOP 10 ranking container port in the world and the biggest in the Middle East region. Port radio communication systems are an intrinsic constituent of critical infrastructure for vessel traffic management, and they represent a distinguished competence in system integration provision. Our comprehensive radio communication solution included the supply and installation of dedicated infrastructure for coastal VHF radio communication system and the provision of required radio equipment.

Jebel Ali is the largest marine terminal in the Middle East with container handling capacity of 19.3 million TEU and more than 24,000 ship movements per year. It is a gateway hub, handling all types of ships, including container, oil, gas, ro-ro cargo, naval, and passenger ships. The port houses extensive logistics facilities at the crossroads of the world´s transport routes, and plays a vital role in both the global as well as local economy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Jebel Ali port is operated by DP World, a leading logistics company running roughly 10% of global container traffic with a portfolio of over 82 marine and inland terminals across six continents. Handling two terminals at the time in Jebel Ali, DP World expected to further expand the second terminal and open a third in 2013. Thus, replacing its technological capabilities, renewing all Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) stations, and modernising radio communication systems to provide fast, efficient, and effective service, was absolutely crucial.

Digital Solution to Overcome Communication Issues

The all-encompassing VTS solution procured by Jebel Ali also comprised of port radio subsystem supplied by Cybernetica. The objective was to provide a suitable VoIP technology based communication system, set to enhance the existing conventional analogue communication system. Also, poor communications quality due to obstacles like quay cranes, container stacks, and vessels having maximum freeboard made the propagation of radio waves very unstable and needed to be taken into account.

The cornerstones of the new radio communication system were:

  • increased communications quality from VoIP technology and advanced radio engineering;
  • easily expandable modular design compatible with the existing system;
  • high-availability architecture;
  • interface that enables initiating communication with vessels;
  • capacity to record audio with timestamps for court evidentiary purposes.

Tailored System Covering All Radio Communication and Surveillance Needs

Cybernetica implemented a new radio communication system tailored to meet the needs of this major transport hub, overcoming the demanding radio engineering environment in a container port and the compatibility requirement with the existing system. The new system’s core is an original IP network centric VHF/digital selective calling (DSC)/automatic identification system (AIS) shore-based communication infrastructure solution. Made to be reliable, it uses robust design based on open architecture, built-in redundancy, and maximum use of standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. Furthermore, continuous monitoring, early warnings for hardware malfunction, remote access for maintenance, up to 100% back-up of critical components, and usage of approved state-of-the-art sensors help to achieve a highly available system.

The delivered communication system comprised of two radio sites with 13 radios, five antennas, and one operator centre with eight operator and one supervisor positions, fulfilling GMDSS requirements and supporting Marine Information System services. The communication system includes maritime VHF channels for coast-to-vessel communication and VHF channels for port internal communications. All communications are recorded with timestamps and the communication system has an interface to the VTS recording/replay system. The offered solution is easily scalable and remotely configurable for adjusting its characteristics in changing circumstances or in the case of calamity.

Technology Partner with Forward-Thinking Approach

Cybernetica is proud to have been the technology partner for this large-scale project to develop and deliver a cutting-edge radio communication system based on IP technology. The first phase of the project started in 2013, and the roll-out lasted until 2014 with several extensions made in the system. The scope of the project included investigating the existing situation and systems, as well as supplying and installing a new digital VHF communication solution adaptable to the communication system already in place in Marine Control Room.

Phase 1: Initial System Provision
The whole project started off with a site survey, including wave propagation analysis to map the situation and analyse radio communication coverage. It was followed by planning a tailored solution best suited to the local needs at the time with one radio tower/pylon setup and with the possibility to expand by adding more components to cover neighbouring ports in the future. This was succeeded by delivering and deploying the system and training users to familiarise with the new solution.

Phase 2: System Extension Provision
The system was further expanded to include an additional radio tower with the aim to improve radio wave propagation and increase situational awareness for enhanced security and safety. Before its final delivery, another site survey was conducted to ensure a well-functioning new radio communication system with high availability.

First Stepping-Stone in the Middle East Region

Cybernetica has been providing modern radio communication systems since 2003 and has delivered over 100 installations globally. Much of the concept behind the solutions lies on long scientific research in the field. The main export markets for radio solutions are located in Europe and Asia and the delivery in the port of Jebel Ali is the first of its kind in the Middle East region.

Written by Maarja Suiste
Sales Assistant