North Sea Port and Port of Antwerp support digitisation of inland navigation with Flemish subsidies

The Flemish government, North Sea Port and Port of Antwerp want to encourage push barge operators to invest in push barge trackers. They are doing so by reimbursing part of the cost.

North Sea Port and Port of Antwerp support digitisation of inland navigation with Flemish subsidies
Photo: North Sea Port

Push barge owners or companies can apply for a reimbursement of up to 50% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of €200 euros, if they can demonstrate that they have called at North Sea Port or the Port of Antwerp at least three times in the three years prior to making the application. The purchase and installation of the push barge tracker must also have taken place between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020.

The inland shipping sector is a sustainable mode of transport for cargo. Thanks to AIS (Automatic Identification System), pusher boats and inland navigation vessels are easily traceable in the port and on waterways. However, push barges often do not have their own power supplies and therefore no AIS to locate them. Thanks to the introduction of battery or solar-powered GPS trackers, port authorities, owners, operators and shipping companies will in future always know where each push barge or push barge convoy is located.

If North Sea Port and Port of Antwerp have digital data at their disposal, they can also share them. At the moment, the composition of the convoys as notified to the port authorities is not always up to date. As a result, you lose valuable time at the locks. The trackers only provide accurate information. This contributes to more reliable lock planning.

Moreover, as an operator or owner, you are aware of the location of the push barge at all times and do not have to request it manually each time. That saves time and manpower. The digital history is also important for compliance with rental contracts and can serve as evidence if you receive a claim from an insurance company.

The mandatory introduction of digital notification also means that various push barge operators will soon benefit from having trackers. Tracking also improves safety in the ports, because the port authorities always know which barge or convoy is where. This allows them to intervene more quickly in the event of problems.

The push barge trackers are not yet mandatory, but North Sea Port and the Port of Antwerp are nevertheless encouraging push barge operators to invest, particularly with a view to mandatory digitisation. The Flemish Government is therefore prepared to provide financial support.