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Wednesday, June 26, 2019 

Dutch company PortX and Helm Operations of Canada have announced a new strategic partnership agreement to combine PortX’s AI-based port despatching system, OptiPort, with Helm Connect harbour despatching and operations software.

Already used in a number of ports, OptiPort improves the scheduling of harbour towage operations by using artificial intelligence to optimise vessel despatch based on crew working hours, currents, tides, vessel characteristics, fuel consumption and availability. Until now, it has been difficult for companies to manually calculate and account for these factors in a live environment. By using AI, OptiPort is able to dynamically optimise harbour schedules every three minutes, resulting in optimised, cost-effective despatch schedules.

Depending on the port, pilot studies using OptiPort have shown savings of greater than US$1 million annually per port by reducing fuel consumption and crew overtime while optimising vessel despatch to reduce chartering of third-party tugs. Together, these factors allow for savings of up to US$200,000 per tug on a yearly basis.

As part of the agreement, Helm Operations will incorporate OptiPort to provide a new advanced version of its Helm Connect platform, which provides vessel despatch and operations software for many fleets. Users will receive automated suggestions on the best towing vessel, departure time and running speed based on the current schedule. 

Vincent van Os, MD PortX said: “Helm Operations is the world leader in harbour despatch and billing software. By combining our OptiPort Dynamic Port Asset Optimisation software with Helm Connect, we can help despatchers and harbour operators around the world make better decisions on the use of their fleet. With the integration work that we have done with Helm, implementation of OptiPort can be achieved extremely quickly without adding additional hardware on the vessels or in the despatch control room. This leads to real cost savings that can improve operators’ bottom lines almost immediately upon implementation.”

Ron deBruyne, CEO of Helm Operations said: “We’ve been incredibly impressed by the cost savings offered by OptiPort. We’ve seen the benefits of AI-driven technology first-hand and believe that this is a major step forward for the industry. Our team has helped implement advanced despatching systems for many of the world’s leading harbour docking companies, and we’re eager to enable our customers to successfully realise the cost savings that OptiPort can provide. From initial planning to long-term success, we’re ready to help our customers achieve more.”

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