One of the world's most advanced ship management systems is now in use on the River Forth. Forth Ports, PLC, the UK's second largest port handler, commissioned a Vessel Tracking System
(VTS) from Norcontrol IT in 1998 to replace equipment installed in 1984. The system uses four radars to track all commercial vessels within the Firth of Forth but it needed the back up of a sophisticated Voyage Management Database to record all associated information such as voyage times, anchorage usage, pilot & tug usage, cargo status etc. Following a requirements specification process with Norcontrol IT a completely new Voyage Management Database was designed and installed.
"Norcontrol IT have developed this latest product after extensive consultation with Forth Ports, an interactive approach which will now be a key part of the Voyage Management Database development with other customers," said Øyvind Taugl, Manager of Research and Development in Norcontrol IT.
"It will also ensure future customers benefit from a solid base product while being assured that their specific needs are incorporated into the delivered application."
The Voyage Management Database is a web-based application designed to be intuitive to use and enable rapid processing of information. The application manages static and dynamic data and a Data Administrator can track and manage a wide range of information about system users, local pilots, tugs, ports, ships and cargoes etc.
The application interfaces to a wide range of services and Third Party products; for example, an interface to the Lloyds Maritime Information Service or other suitable data source ensures essential vessel information
is readily available to the end-user. Additionally, automatic traffic information updates are received from the VTS where provided. Various reporting tools allow users to extract traffic data and a wide range of other information. Equally important is the automated transfer of billing information achieved by interfacing to a wide range of Accounting packages.
Reliability and Supportability are ensured by the choice of Microsoft products, such as Windows 2000 Server, SQL Server 2000 and Internet Information Services 5.0. as the applications platform. A significant benefit of the web-based approach is the ease of system upgrade and support, Norcontrol IT via a remote access link can support the system anywhere in the world. All changes are made to a single server and all system users benefit from the changes being available instantly, avoiding costly down time.
The system is highly scalable and can serve one workstation or hundreds over a LAN/WAN Network. The Voyage Management Database can be extensively and easily customized to meet individual Port requirements thanks to the use of COM+ and XML technologies.