The Port Authority seeks to raise the share of container barge transport to 42% by 2020.

Container barge transport accounts for some 35% of carriage of containers to and from the port of Antwerp, a substantial amount in comparison with other ports. The Port Authority seeks to raise the share of container barge transport to 42% by 2020.

Automatic Identification System

As of 1 January 2012 the use of AIS (Automatic Identification System) is obligatory in the port of Antwerp.

This system automatically sends information concerning the name, position, speed and direction of the barge. Its obligatory use will first and foremost benefit safety in the port by raising the level of transparency and recognition, and will also permit smooth traffic management. The information obtained is particularly valuable for making better use of facilities, more efficient berth management, optimising lock capacity and permitting better reaction to incidents. In the longer term it is planned to introduce barge coordination, with barge movements being monitored and managed proactively with the help of among others AIS.

Barges equipped with AIS can book a place in the lock queue up to two hours before their estimated time of arrival. This enables them to adjust their speed according to the timetable of lock operations, permitting not only shorter waiting times at the lock but also lower fuel consumption, with consequent financial and ecological advantages.



Barge Traffic System

The use of BTS 3.0 became obligatory in September 2012 for all barge and terminal operators who carry or handle containers in the port of Antwerp.

Work on the new 3.0 version of the Barge Traffic System (BTS) began in 2012, with the BTS workgroup made up of representatives of terminal operators, barge operators and the Port Authority being frequently called upon. BTS is a free internet application developed by the Port Authority. It has been operating for more than six years as a unique reporting and monitoring platform for container barge traffic in the port of Antwerp. Use of the system was made obligatory on 3 September 2012 for all barge and terminal operators that carry or transport barges in the port of Antwerp. 

With BTS barge operators are able to give advance notice of their arrival at a terminal, request a time slot or pass on other information to the terminal operator. A uniform, port-wide procedure has been introduced for this, to replace bilateral agreements. This not only permits better planning of loading and unloading operations by terminal operators but also affords shorter waiting times for the barges and more efficient management of sailing schedules. Overall it makes traffic management in the port of Antwerp much smoother.

In the longer term it is planned to extend the system to other sectors of the barge industry. 


Port-wide barge planning

Port-wide barge planning for greater competitiveness.
The first trials of port-wide barge planning were carried out at the beginning of 2012. From the assessment it appeared that terminal and barge operators experienced it as positive and were willing to collaborate in further development.

In the consultations that followed the Port Authority received agreement in principle from DP World, MSC Home Terminal and PSA to participate in a second, more extensive trial period, given certain changes to the conditions.
In consultation with the players involved the Port Authority decided to organise a second trial after the introduction of the new version of BTS, namely BTS 3.0.

The combination of nautical barge coordination (on the waterways) and logistics coordination under the form of BTS together with port-wide barge coordination (inside the port) will ensure smooth movements of container barges within the port, making this mode even more competitive.