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EFFective Operation in poRTS

The European economy depends highly on the effecient operations of ports. Most of European trade passes through portsand this will continue to do so: a doubling of transport volumes is expected in the next 15 years.

Tags: Water

Ports, therefore, are under a tremenduous pressure to increase their capacities and efficiency while at the same time environmental and spatial development considerations imply constraints.

EFFORTS is structured around ports with the aim to address three key issues, navigation, environment, organisation and infrastructure, with a vision to develop and integrate innovations so that the final added value is much more than the sum of individual improvements.


According to Commissioner Borg, over 90% of Europe’s trade with the rest of the world is shipped through its ports. This is also the case for almost half of the intra-European trade. Seaports handle a total of 3.5 billion tonnes of cargo per year. Approximately 350 000 people in Europe work in over 1 000 ports or in directly related services, which together generate about € 20 billion. At the same time, the container sector is facing an increasing threat of terminal congestions and thus container terminals are the potential bottlenecks within the transport chain. Besides the logistics problems, which will arise from container terminal congestion, European ports in general need to strengthen competitiveness by improving their availability and cost-benefit ratio of services to all types of vessels, passengers and commodities. Regarding the environment, over the last years European ports have been consolidating a strong involvement in environmental protection and friendliness in ports. Also, the EU environmental regulation framework that relates to ports, directly or indirectly, is impressive. Yet, much remains to be done. European ports already follow an innovative and pro-active approach; however, appropriately structured research assistance will have a lever function resulting in much higher benefits than costs.


EFFORTS has been built through co-operation with ports to determine deficiencies or ideas for improvement. The overall objectives of EFFORTS are to achieve more effective, safe and environmentally friendly operations in European ports. After analysing the current state of the art and requirements, concrete research objectives have been worked out and translated into the work plan of EFFORTS. The vision is rather simple: to combine selected key developments intelligently so that the overall benefit is much more than the sum of individual improvements. The terms of reference are challenging but feasible within the project duration and will result in clearly measurable products and processes.

To achieve the applicability of results on a European level, the approach aims at modular, evolutionary and interoperable solutions. It shall also enable usability on each level of individual technological development of a port. Hub ports have needs distinct from small feeder ports thus transferability methodologies will be invented.

However, searching for new solutions always includes the risk of not achieving all the specified objectives. The project approach therefore allows for alternatives to avoid dead ends. EFFORTS is structured around ports and port services resulting in a holistic approach.

Within EFFORTS there are the five demonstration ports (shown in blue in the picture), which are determined to provide the sources for terms of reference, serve to exchange requirements
Within EFFORTS there are the five demonstration ports (shown in blue in the picture), which are determined to provide the sources for terms of reference, serve to exchange requirements

Description of work

The work content covers the sub-project areas Navigation, Environment, and Organisation and Infrastructure, which will be brought into a coherent context through the project Integration activity. Integration in EFFORTS is not restricted to technology and business processes but takes into account crucial social economic aspects, such as personnel qualification, business awareness, social responsibility and job satisfaction. The work packages for the three sub-projects will use a proven methodology, commencing from state of the art, and then defining specifications to develop suitable solutions to be evaluated through demonstrations, and the assessment results providing inputs for further enhancements. Common issues like Education and Training, Dissemination, and Implementation and Exploitation will be tackled by horizontal work packages so as to ensure a standardised approach and foster the transfer of results to a generic level. Validation and verification will be dealt with horizontally as part of the Integration Work Package, which also controls demonstrations. The first eight months are declared as the verification phase in which the state of the art and ports’ needs will be detailed and work package descriptions refined. It will be concluded with a review by the Commission deciding which of the work packages will be conducted during the next phases of the project.


Priority is given to tangible results with short introduction phases and high applicability:

Navigation in Ports, to allow for safe and efficient approach and berthing. Based on highly accurate digital chart data (Harbour ECDIS) operations of vessels and tugs will allow improved use of space and monitoring of operations and increased automation of processes. Prognostic management of feeder vessels will improve planning of port resources.

Ports and Environment, to integrate ships into the land-based systems to handle wastes and pollutants. Shore-based reception facilities need to be operated in a network from ships provisions to waste. EFFORTS will look to accelerate European solutions regarding dredging and for a harmonised port neighbourhood by minimizing annoyances from all kind of emissions.

Port Organisation and Infrastructure, to provide a comprehensive picture of port processes. Tools and methodologies for improved port operations and infrastructure will also be developed, including a risk assessment framework and investigations into artificial offshore ports.

Solutions will be developed to reduce costs and environmental impacts, and increase safety and flexibility of European ports. EFFORTS will thereby improve their competitiveness, supporting the modal shift from road to sea and better balancing the effectiveness between European ports and ports of other continents.