Port and Harbor Monitoring


Ports and harbors are the critical nodes in our modern global economy. While they provide safe haven from the open seas, they are not without hazards. Port and harbor monitoring systems can measure weather, waves and currents to help to ensure that ship traffic can safely navigate the waters. They can also monitor water quality during dredging and other construction activity to ensure that the environment and ecosystems remain protected.

Ports and Harbors

A majority of the raw materials and goods we use pass through ports at some point during their life cycle, and the trend is increasing. Maintaining port safety is essential to keep traffic flowing. At the same time, ensuring that wildlife and sensitive habitats are protected is important for long-term sustainability.
According to NOAA, 76% of all domestic trade in the US and 90% of all international trade involves some sort of marine transport.
In the US alone, ports account for over 13 million jobs and move a total value of over $1.5 trillion worth of goods.
Commercial vessels involved in accidents can quickly cause millions of dollars in damage in delayed or lost deliveries - over 600 occur annually in the US.
Larger ships with heavier loads push the limits of bridge clearances and water depth in ports and navigation channels, leading to an increased need for dredging.
Commercial vessels must also be able to navigate ports and harbors being used by an increasing number of recreational boaters.
Heavy traffic and industrial activity inherently increase the risk of oil spills and other types of contamination.

Port and Harbor Monitoring System

Safety in heavily trafficked areas depends on many factors. Shoreside and buoy-based port and harbor monitoring systems play a critical role in tracking many of these, including weather conditions, waves, water currents, depths to bottom, and water quality.

A typical NexSens port and harbor monitoring system consists of dockside and/or buoy-based measurements using a platform such as the CB-1250 data buoy, which is large enough for good visibility and can support mounting of special marks like a St. Andrew’s cross or custom equipment such as an AIS system. The X3 data logger is the central component of either type of deployment. It is compatible with a wide range of sensor types and transmits real-time data via wireless telemetry.

For water current monitoring, an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) instrument such as a Nortek Aquadopp or Signature series instrument may be used. These can measure currents at a single point in the water column or profile in a series of cells from near-surface to bottom. Wave measurement, including statistical values for significant and maximum wave height, direction and period, is simple to add using the SeaView Systems SVS-603HR wave sensor mounted in a watertight enclosure atop the buoy data logger. Depth to bottom on a buoy platform can be tracked using an Airmar EchoRange SS510 sonar depth sensor.

In cases such as dredging or for general water quality monitoring, the X3 data logger is compatible with nearly all industry standard turbidity sensors and multiparameter water quality sondes including those from YSI, Hydrolab, Eureka and In-situ. For more information on turbidity, see the Dredge Turbidity Monitoring systems page.

Regardless of sensor selection, data transfer to the WQData LIVE web datacenter provides options for viewing, manipulation, reporting and exporting of data, configuration of alarm notifications, data API, and more.

Contact a NexSens Applications Engineer today to discuss your port or harbor monitoring application.

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Case Studies


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Alaska Buoy Platform

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Bermuda Port Dredge

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