Maximum unloading, efficient transport, reliable ETA

This project Covadem stands for cooperative navigation depth measurement (coöperatieve vaardieptemeting in Dutch). In this project, inland shippers collect information about navigation depths during their trips and share it with each other in condensed form. This saves on costs and increases profits by making optimal use of current water depths and water levels. Ships are able to transport more cargo, load an extra layer of containers and choose courses that minimise fuel consumption.

dieptekaart covadem

Using waterways better

An increase in goods transport is expected in the future, for example as a result of the construction of the second Maasvlakte. Road and rail transport will not be able to cope with all of this increase and so inland waterway transport must become a more appealing alternative. For this reason the programme Impulse Dynamic Waterway Traffic Management (IDVV) was rolled out between 2010 and 2014, which was an initiative of Rijkswaterstaat. Making better use of waterways will generate major opportunities to retain and strengthen the strong position of the Netherlands as the European hub for goods transhipment.

Covadem is a direct spin-off from IDVV and its ultimate objectives are cargo maximisation, efficient sailing and reliable arrival times. Vessel owners, ship masters, cargo traders and waterway authorities will benefit.

Depth charts

Inland shipping vessels have standardised electronic charts on board. However, these provide little or no information about navigation depth because European waterway authorities often do not supply this information.

Under Covadem, approximately 50 vessels have been fitted out with equipment that, as the vessel is sailing, sends a constant stream of information about echo sounder measurements and position to a land-based server. The next step involves compiling a navigation depth chart of the area based on the collective measurements from the project vessels. This involves converting the underkeel clearance into a water depth by correcting for the ship’s draught, squat and trim. An actual depth chart is then derived through smart aggregation of all relevant measurements.


Marin, Deltares, Autena Marine, Bureau Telematica Binnenvaart, Rijkswaterstaat and Connekt are working together in the Covadem project. The Deltares role involves bringing in hydrodynamic and morphological knowledge about the river, validating the depth measurements and drawing up the procedure to establish an aggregated depth chart covering the area.

External link