Siemens SCADA Specialist

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Integrated SCADA at Port of Dover for remote berth monitoring

Customer Case Study: Port of Dover
Integrated SCADA at Port of Dover for remote berth monitoring

A highly secure, Win CC OA application for critical national infrastructure


  • Improved data analysis – enhanced level of alarm/ incident awareness to support continuous improvement by M&E
  • Improved communication and visibility – integrated SCADA delivers a single view of the entire berthing operation from the central control room and detailed business reporting capabilities;
  • Improved efficiency – focused preventive maintenance, supported by intuitive, animated user interface displays;
  • Improved customer service levels – improved maintenance means faster, more reliable berthing services for ferry operators;
  • Cyber security and safety compliant – based on IEC62443 Cyber Security Framework for Critical National Infrastructure and 61508 SIL2 approved products to meet future functional safety requirements
  • Future proof – System allows scope for future assets to be monitored and capabilities expanded. Phase 1 provides remote monitoring of ferry berths. Further expansion to other systems and the possibility to remotely control berths is planned for Phase 2.

Project Background

Dover Harbour Board manages the ferry port at Dover (PoD), which is situated on one of the world’s busiest sea crossings and classified as a Critical National Infrastructure service. The port provides berthing services under contract to two primary customers – the ferry companies P&O and DFDS – who together, are transporting an average of 10,000 vehicles daily between the UK and France.

At Dover, six electrical and hydraulic ferry berths are operated, to enable cars and lorries to drive on and off the ferries. Having such a large number of passengers means berths are in use around the clock, 7 days a week, 364 days a year. The port operations team aims to deliver a 50-minute turnaround time between a ship first arriving from a crossing and being able to re-depart with another full quantity of passengers and freight traffic.

The ferry berths are designed to raise and lower in their operation, adjusting to the height of ships decks, in line with changing water levels, which are dictated by the tides. As the water level increases, berth operating level is increased correspondingly and over a 12-hour period, this can change by as much as 7M according to the tide. It means the six berths at Dover require constant monitoring in their operation. To ensure high performance is maintained, the engineering team are always on standby to keep operations moving.

Increased volume leads to improved monitoring requirement

Passenger and freight volumes at Dover have increased significantly over the past 5 years and as the volume of users continues to rise, the Port of Dover undertook a major transformation initiative to upgrade the technology and systems in place. Areas outlined for an upgrade were the monitoring systems installed at each berth.

A SCADA system would provide a greatly enhanced means to monitor, track and report on berth operation, so assisting Port Operations and Engineering with improved visibility of operation and engineering functions.

Customer Case Study Image: Port of Dover

AIS added value as control system integrators:

  • Critical national infrastructure specialists and approved Siemens WinCC OA SCADA experts
  • Ability to integrate multiple, disparate control systems and provide a single, intuitive user interface that meets the latest cyber security and human factors development requirements
  • Experienced at developing SIL2 life safety systems
  • Collaborative design approach ensures high user acceptance with projects delivered on time and within budget.

We have a level of operational awareness that didn’t exist before, which means we can focus on continuous improvement, both in terms of customer service levels and cost efficiencies. Over time, being able to direct maintenance efforts exactly where they are needed will translate into having more resources to invest in improving the services provided to ferry operators and ensuring a better, faster turnaround time.

Barry Martin
SCADA Project Engineer, Port of Dover

Docking Turnaround Time Report

Although the original control systems did provide berth system monitoring, they could only operate locally. If problems were detected with a berth, it was already too late for remedial action by the time problems were detected and impossible to issue an early warning signal to alert operators that they should use an alternative berth.

Port of Dover required an integrated, site wide SCADA system to remotely monitor the six ferry berths. This would enable the organisation to run more efficiently and reduce operational issues, capture performance data to proactively improve the ongoing running and berth maintenance services, plus provide a better understanding of possible problem areas.

Solution provided

Applied Industrial Systems (AIS) were appointed to develop an integrated, site wide SCADA berth monitoring system for Port of Dover, based on Siemens WinCC OA. This would connect all six berths within the operations and engineering offices and allow secure remote monitoring of all operations, by PoD’s engineering and operations management, from any user PC.

Oil Analysis Report

Oil Analysis Report

Focus on cyber security and safety compliance

The system developed was designed to comply with IEC62443 which define cyber security requirements – especially for Critical National Infrastructure such as PoD. Working with Siemens, and to meet the standard, AIS added an extra layer of security to the system architecture, adding enhanced protection.

Additionally, using Siemens WinCC OA as the basis of the SCADA system ensures the system can meet functional safety requirements – up to SIL2 in accordance with BS EN61508

For ease of use, the SCADA system user interfaces were designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible.  This was achieved by working in partnership with engineering and operations staff to optimise the design. AIS completed this part of the project using the ‘teach back’ methodology, whereby the company’s software engineers proposed an initial prototype design as a starting point, and developing the final interface was an interactive, collaborative process.

Commenting on the benefits of the system, Barry Martin, SCADA Project Engineer at Port of Dover said, “The system has given us many benefits, one being a much higher level of system operational awareness, which means we can focus on continuous improvement both in terms of service level and system performance for greater efficiencies.  Over time, being able to direct maintenance efforts exactly where they are needed will translate into improving the services provided to ferry operators and ensuring a better, faster turnaround time.”

Now, berth operation staff can monitor the systems from the central technical office. If an alarm or fault is detected on the berth, they have visibility much earlier to action alternative arrangements and keep traffic flowing. In the event of a major issue, operators can proactively redirect traffic into alternative berths to avoid delays.

Winch Movements Report

Winch Movements Report

Improved service levels and preventive maintenance

Reactive maintenance turnaround times have also improved and email notification of alarms and faults are sent straight to relevant engineers. Since alarms are triggered centrally, available maintenance engineers are directed straight to the area of problem, enabling faster resolution and an all-round more efficient and proactive maintenance service for the ferry operators.

Another key benefit of having an integrated SCADA system is the ability it provides for PoD engineers to conduct trend analyses on system behaviour and faults and understand why issues could have occurred. This can then be used to improve predictive maintenance and long-term performance.  Overall, maintenance teams now have greater visibility of alarms and can address underlying causes before faults give rise to major downtime.

In addition to reducing maintenance and operational costs, the new SCADA system will continue to contribute to improved customer satisfaction levels, as systems within the berthing service provided by Port of Dover are now more efficient and reliable.

Sequence of Events Report

Sequence of Events Report

Detailed business intelligence

As part of the system design, AIS has produced a series of bespoke reports using BIRT Reporting Designer, an open source reporting application. BIRT is used to create data visualizations and reports, providing PoD with improved intelligence. Typical reports include:

  • General alarm reporting which highlights alarm history over a set time period, indicating when alarms have alerted and providing the location of incidents and their frequency.
  • Performance data for calculation of operational efficiencies
  • Hydraulic oil condition reporting provides trend reporting for engineering teams.
  • Energy consumption reports provide an indicator of potential efficiency problems from unusually high energy consumption, giving improved preventative maintenance.
  • Drowning alarm reporting monitors the water levels and proximity of berth surfaces to sea levels.

Reporting is configurable and can use any data from the WinCC OA database.

Future plans

Currently the PoD SCADA system is being used for remote monitoring purposes – but the business plan to extend the application for other possibilities is part of ongoing investigation and study.

Once the system has been operational for 12 months, a full financial return on investment will be produced – but PoD are already seeing tangible benefits from the system.

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