“One week and we’ll have the app ready to go!”

SmartDock, an application for cloud-based monitoring of docks, is designed to make operation in floating workshops smarter and safer. The app was developed in a very short time by the Norwegian experts from Digitread, Siemens Digital Industries Software partner and member of the MindSphere Global Partner Ecosystem.

Motorists know this: The vehicle has to be inspected. So off to the workshop with the car and up to the lift. The underside of the vehicle can also be checked for possible damage here. What still works quite simply in motor vehicles is much more difficult with large ships. So-called dry or floating docks are used as “lifting platforms” in order to carry out tests on the underwater parts of ships.

Floating docks involve risk

Floating docks generally comprise one bottom pontoon and two side pontoons constructed of watertight ballast tanks. These tanks are flooded with water to submerge the dock and allow the ship to enter, and then the water is pumped out. The ship rests on blocks on the bottom of the dock and is often secured with chains to keep it from tipping over.


These floating workshops react to external environmental conditions like weather (storms!), tides, and waves created by passing ships. This sometimes causes accidents: Floating docks capsize or may catch fire, resulting in significant damage to property, not to mention the potential danger to people working on the docks.


The problem is that until now, environmental conditions, technical equipment, and the docks’ operating states have primarily been monitored manually and therefore separately.

Finding the smart solution together

At the suggestion of a customer, the IoT experts at Digitread looked for an answer. The small Norwegian engineering firm based in Sandvika (near Oslo) is a Siemens Digital Industries Software partner as well as a member of the MindSphere partner network. Working with Siemens, it has dedicated itself to creating smart solutions for challenges in the maritime industry. “Give us a week and we’ll have the app ready to go,” said Christoffer Lange, Industrial IoT Product Manager at Digitread, when the project was initiated.


Their idea was SmartDock, a special app that significantly reduces the risk of accidents using MindSphere, the leading industrial IoT as a service solution from Siemens. “As engineers, we solve problems. Because we also develop ships, we have extensive knowledge of how docks function. That ultimately gave us the idea,” says Magnus Normann, Managing Director of Digitread.

Using existing data intelligently and securely

“With the aid of sensors connected by MindSphere, operators can monitor many of the operating states of floating docks in real time from virtually anywhere,” says Helge Kjeilen, Chairman of Digitread. Kjeilen points to his smartphone. SmartDock is currently showing the water levels in the different tanks and other operating parameters for the floating giants.


The app can even predict future operating states by analyzing current data in the light of historical data. Part of SmartDock’s functionality is to quickly retrieve data that can help prevent a wave effect. Motion sensors on the dock indicate that a large ship is about to pass: This allows the dock’s ballast tanks to be quickly flooded to counteract the movement. Weather data and tides also affect the dock and are recorded in the app.


In addition to physical safety, IT security is also of central importance. “Naturally, all the data stored in MindSphere is encrypted and remains the customer’s exclusive property,” says Normann.

IoT functions used for specific industries

He adds a tip for customers who aren’t yet sure of how to enter the digital age. “It’s best to start simply. There’s no need for major investments, pilot programs, costly infrastructure, or new technologies. The sensors are there, MindSphere is there, and it’s simply a matter of coordinating and connecting the two,” says Normann. SmartDock proves that it works.


Digitread is an excellent example of a MindSphere partner from the field of operational technology. The company specializes in the maritime industry, shipbuilding, and PLM software and has brought insights that can quickly be implemented using IoT functions like connectivity, cloud computing, and communication,” says Paul Kealey, Senior Vice President of the MindSphere Global Partner Ecosystem.


“The SmartDock app demonstrates how a partner’s domain-specific knowledge can be joined with Siemens’ capabilities to develop globally available solutions based on MindSphere.”

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