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Press release

Potential of inland shipping Published on 28 January 2021

bremenports and Maritime Cluster Nothern Germany organise innovative online seminar on the future of inland shipping

The modal shift of freight traffic onto barges plays a central role when it comes to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and easing congestion on the road and rail networks. But how can this be achieved? Answers to this crucially important question for the future of the logistics industry were provided at a seminar organised by the port management company bremenports and Maritime Cluster Northern Germany. The virtual event revealed potential ways of improving the competitiveness of inland shipping.

A further objective of the event was to encourage the participants to share their professional knowledge and technological information: “By offering these events, we hope to highlight the future potential of inland shipping as a modern and competitive transport mode,” explained Dr Lars Stemmler, responsible for research and development projects at bremenports. “And we would also like to set people thinking about shifting traffic towards more environmentally and climate friendly logistics, which also includes inland waterway vessels,” adds Dr Susanne Neumann, head of the Lower Saxony office of Maritime Cluster Northern Germany.

Four speakers from shipping companies, freight forwarders and government organisations presented practical examples of how traffic can successfully be shifted onto inland waterway vessels. The first came from Sebastiaan van Vliet from the shipping company Dettmer Reederei GmbH & Co. KG, who took a detailed look at the framework conditions that are needed for successful inland shipping. This was followed by a presentation which focussed on logistics for high quality building materials: Kristof Decroos, representing the building materials supplier Wienerberger N.V., described how the company had successfully switched the transport of bricks to inland shipping. The next presentation was given by Robert Huigen, representative of the Friesland Province in the Netherlands, who described an innovative way of making use of the transport times on barges to cure and dry hollow-core concrete slabs.
The final paper was given by a shipowner and dealt with his experience of semi-autonomous vessels on inland waterways.

The participants were then invited to take part in a discussion at a virtual round table. This session revealed that there is room for improvement with regard to key aspects of the framework conditions regarding inland shipping, with economic efficiency and the availability of clean propulsion systems quoted as the main barriers. It also emerged that the increasing use of intelligent ship technologies, cross-modal transport management and efficient cargo discharge could all play a key role in raising the competitiveness of inland shipping.

The event was part of the Interreg #IWTS 2.0 project, which is aimed at making present and future decision-makers more aware of inland shipping as a high-potential transport mode. Interreg is a joint initiative of the European Regional Development Fund to promote cooperation between EU Member States and neighbouring non-EU countries.
bremenports also takes part in the EU-funded Horizont 2020 project “IW-NET” in the role of living lab. The objective of this project is to investigate different technology concepts to create a vision of a European inland shipping transport network that is driven by innovation und collaboration.