DraftEye By CIS Allows Accurate Draft Survey With ‘No Boots On The Barge’

Continuing its pursuit of making “no boots on the barge” a reality, the marine division of CIS (Contractors & Industrial Supply Company Inc.) has announced a new product, called DraftEye Intelligent Draft Survey Solution, to determine a barge’s loading capacity.

Up until now, a barge’s cargo loading capacity has typically been measured manually by a person from the deck of the barge itself.

“Currently, draft is established by viewing the draft marks on the side of a barge, and visually estimating distance, or by using a tape measure or stick,” said Scott Thelen, marine sales manager for CIS. “We’ve developed a system using LiDAR technology to look at the barge and give a very accurate measure of draft.”

LiDAR stands for “light detection and ranging” via laser pulse. The technology is a major component in autonomous vehicles, robotics and aerial surveying.

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

Using a LiDAR-equipped sensor mounted dockside, the DraftEye system is able to calculate draft, along with roll, pitch and yaw, without personnel ever stepping on the barge. Thus, not only does DraftEye improve safety by eliminating personnel movements on barges, the system also boosts capacity and efficiency through more accurate means of measurement.

Barge loaders are able to input a barge’s dimensions and design into the system, and then the sensor calculates load capacity based on the barge’s position relative to water levels.

“For those customers looking at drafts in terms of dollars, this gives a very accurate measurement without anyone going on the barge,” Thelen said.

According to Thelen, DraftEye measurements are accurate within half an inch.

The DraftEye system includes the Integrated Data Acquisition System, or the physical sensor, which offers both manual and automatic modes. Users have the option for multipoint static or dynamic calculation of yaw, pitch and roll. The system features a simple user interface and remote access. Barges of variable lengths may be measured through multi-band beam detection. Data is stored in the cloud, making it easy to retrieve and review at any time. What’s more, the system is able to calculate capacity in real time as it tracks changes due to loading or unloading.

This isn’t the CIS Marine Division’s only safety-focused product. The company also markets the X-Factor, a barge cover lid handling system designed to eliminate one of the most dangerous personnel movements on barges. Usually, barge lid movements require one person to operate a crane or lift, while one or more others climb aboard the barge wearing harnesses and hard hats to hook up barge lids. X-Factor, instead, removes barge covers using a system of polyester slings, cameras and electronic safety hooks, with barge-cover clamps engaged and released from a remote control display panel. The cameras built into the system allow a shoreside operator to position and engage X-Factor, without anyone having to set foot on the barge.

The nexus for X-Factor goes back more than five years, when CIS Marine Division President Tom Schiller was working with Shane Bakalyar, terminal manager for LafargeHolcim’s cement terminal in Nashville, Tenn., on a rigging issue. Bakalyar took a hook CIS distributes, and designed a four-point barge lid removal system that could be operated remotely. Bakalyar now holds the patent, while CIS manufactures, markets and distributes the system. The X-Factor is now in use at that LafargeHolcim terminal in Nashville. The system is also in place at several other terminals in the United States, with more installations planned.

Like DraftEye, X-Factor is all about bringing safety and efficiency to barge operations, Schiller said.

“With X-Factor, the first guy is on the crane making the lift, and the second guy is already working on production,” Schiller said. He’s no longer going around making connections. He’s doing productive work. The efficiency gains are pretty nice.”

CIS has also partnered with LafargeHolcim and Bobcat to deploy a radio controlled “skid steer” device, allowing cargo handlers to move product within a hopper barge remotely from onshore.

All three new technologies are making “no boots on the barge” more attainable for terminal operators on the nation’s waterways.

“DraftEye, just like X-Factor, is designed to be a ‘No Boots on the Barge’ tool that can dramatically reduce the great safety risks barge operators face on the water,” Schiller said. “Our top priority as a company is to develop technologies that can prevent barge accidents and lower the risk of operator injury and productivity losses. We’re excited to demonstrate the safety and efficiency gains that X-Factor and DraftEye bring to the industry.”