Connected: Floating Crane Communications for Transshipment Cargo and Maritime Trade

Situation:

When a major transshipment and maritime trade company needed to enhance its floating crane communications network aboard its operational fleet, it turned to BATS to provide its industry-leading antenna tracking technology. What the operator needed was a wireless communications link that would maintain the 160 square kilometer wide operational area of the floating crane, while delivering the high throughput, 100Mbps broadband link needed for video monitoring, communications, and future remote control needs of the asset.

The vessel needed a solution that would maintain a stable link, despite the varied sea states and its wide range of movement, including frequent elevation changes, 360° asset rotation, and job-based roaming to sites up to 16 kilometers away. This use case alone frequently killed off all of the omni-based WiMAX, WIFI, or LTE networks due to its demand for stable operation in choppy water, or delivery of high-speed communication links throughout the entire operational area.

Typical transshipment offloading arrangement for bulk materials.

For the operator, increasing existing satellite connectivity was prohibitively expensive, due to their increased networking requirements, due to low latency HD video, voice communications, and future control applications that were planned for the fleet. Because of their previous failures with WIMAX, WIFI, and LTE networks, and the cost of competing satellite solutions, the operators were looking for a more flexible solution that would serve their high bandwidth needs without significantly adding to their operational costs.

Solution:
BATS Wireless worked with the operator, to deliver flexible 100Mbps hybrid PTP/PTMP links across their entire fleet of large and small floating cranes. The solution was able to deliver stable, high speed PTP links for their larger cranes, even in their farthest operational areas — over 16km away, while the PTMP network delivered wireless communications to the fleet of smaller cranes operating closer to shore.

The flexible links were achieved by placing FAST tracking antennas, paired with 5GHz MIMO radios on the floating cranes, while additional FASTs and sector-based antenna arrays with 5GHz MIMO antennas were placed at strategic areas on shore to complete the link.

With the floating crane communications network in place, managers and coordinators onshore were better able to communicate with the crew, while delivering the network infrastructure needed for a future of floating crane automation and remote control.