Engineering is a key success factor for inland navigation as an innovative mode of transport. Many innovations within inland navigation have a relationship with or are based on (innovative) engineering, for example in making adjustments to the ship design, the engine or the propulsion. Engineering is therefore also involved in the development of many other areas of attention, like in making new logistic concepts (crane barges, city distribution) possible or creating a sustainable development (dual fuel engine, diesel-electric propulsion).
Engineering is used in order to solve several logistics and sustainable issues. For example, one of the main logistical problems in inland navigation is the use of smaller waterways. In order to keep using these, it is necessary to develop new small and lightweight structures. Another main issue is how to create more power with less energy and emissions, making inland navigation more environmental friendly. Main areas of engineering are the propulsion and engine of the ship, to create more power with less energy, and the hydrodynamics of the ship, in order to reduce the resistance.
Small lightweight structures
In order to navigate more on inland waterways, it is important to make fully use of all present waterways, also on small waterways. At the other side, in countries like the Netherlands, there is a problem with small barges, because these vessels are mostly obsolescent, it is often less cost-efficient compared to larger ships and therefore, the number of small ships decreases. So in order to maintain the use of the smaller waterways, it is important to develop new small and lightweight ships. One way is to make use of ships that can navigate in combination at the larger waterways and can split in components to navigate on smaller waterways. Examples of this are the Barge Truck and the Q-Barge.
Presentations on this topic at the Rivers of the World Forum: