Belgium’s Port of Antwerp has installed smart bollards with sensors to enhance safety at the quay walls.

Bollard Monitor, a digital sensor that calculates the tension on a bollard, has been developed by technology company Zensor.

While the first five Bollard Monitors have been deployed at the North Sea Terminal, the port said that five additional monitors will be installed in the future.

For the purpose of mooring, the port offers approximately 120.6km of quay walls and 7,000 mooring posts and bollards.

However, during windy or stormy conditions, the ropes of large ships exert a lot of pressure on the mooring posts and bollards.

As bollards are more sensitive than mooring masts, there is a risk of it coming loose and injuring people or allowing a ship to drift away, making it necessary to conduct regular inspection and maintenance.

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To tackle the issue, the port launched a call to develop a digital system for this purpose last year.

Out of the five entries competing for this call, Zensor was selected as the winner.

Bollard Monitor has two built-in sensors and quantifies the tension and tension fluctuations on the mounting system.

The system transmits the information every 15 minutes via a wireless connection and pictures it on a dashboard, enabling the operational department to take timely preventive measures.

Zensor sales manager Tom Cornelissen said: “Zensor makes the bollards at the port of Antwerp intelligent. Instead of on-site checks, the sensors will automatically and immediately indicate when the bolt connections of bollards are being overloaded. The technical services at the Antwerp Port Authority can view the actual load on the bollards live via the online Zensor platform.

“The system will send out an alert if a bolt comes loose. This is not only much more efficient for maintenance, it also increases safety. The measured data from the bollards is linked to operational data from the Port Authority. The intelligent processing of this combined data provides additional insights and context about the load on these bollards.”