Keeping tidal data flowing

Port of London Authority (PLA)
Orion & OpenNET 6000
Wide area telemetry for tidal monitoring
Industry / Vertical:
Marine / Transport


The River Thames is the UK’s busiest inland waterway for freight with more than 230,000 vessel movements every year. Commercial vessels provide trade links to more than 80 countries around the world; operations that generate £3 billion a year for the UK’s economy.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) runs Britain's biggest, most modern Port Control Service. It oversees navigational safety on the River Thames from Teddington Lock, the upstream limit of the tidal river, to the end of the Kent/Essex strait of the North Sea, between Margate to the south and Gunfleet Lighthouse near Frinton-on-Sea to the north.

The PLA acts as a managing authority for the use of the 95 mile (150 km) tidal stretch of the River Thames, ensuring safe, commercial navigation into the port. The PLA is also responsible for river traffic control, security, navigational safety and conserving the river and its environment.

The issue:

The PLA required a major upgrade to its telemetry system to provide up to the minute tidal information to secure safe passage for thousands of commercial vessels entering and exiting the port via the River Thames. Without accurate and timely data on the status of the tides, ships could run aground or be damaged. The system would need to be extremely secure and reliable, providing up to the minute data from often remotely located monitoring stations along almost 100 miles of river.

The solution:

Wood & Douglas, in collaboration with Valeport and Oceanwise, supported the Port of London Authority’s complete upgrade of telemetry capability along the Thames, deploying Orion and OpenNET 6000 radios.

With easy connection for Remote Telemetry Units to monitor tidal movement, the Orion radios regularly poll data about the tides, from the London gateway to Margate and the Suffolk Coast. With more than 200 Orion units able to work on the same frequency, the system is easy to monitor and control remotely from a central source. The Orion radios are deployed in a master/slave telemetry system, using store-and-forward techniques so the radios can be used as repeaters to extend the systems operational range along the length of the Thames and across the tidal estuary. This delivers fast transmission speeds and reliable performance.

The Orion radios are also configured to monitor and signal their own supply voltage, which helps manage long-term battery operation. This is important for remotely located, 24-7 monitoring. Should the battery performance drop, early notification is sent to the control centre. A maintenance team can then be despatched to rectify the battery problem, ensuring the flow of tidal data is not interrupted.

Wood & Douglas’ OpenNET 6000 Series telemetry system manages data acquisition, process control and monitoring of the Orion radio units. Protocols and structures are integrated to create a comprehensive, secure, tidal monitoring system.

OpenNET 6000 supports a MODBUS interface, the simple, robust communication protocol for connecting industrial tidal monitoring devices with SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition). This delivers a low power radio interface with improved reliability to support long-range, regular tidal monitoring and control. In addition to the standard radio communications infrastructure, OpenNet6000 is equipped with on-board GSM/GPRS support to provide SMS alerts and data connections over the mobile network if required.

With OpenNET 6000 and Orion radios Wood & Douglas provides a robust, fast to deploy and fully scalable telemetry system, creating a safe environment for shipping entering and leaving the port.

  • Wide area radio telemetry keeps up to the minute track of tidal movements
  • Enables safe and reliable movement of 230,000 vessels into port
  • Self monitoring ensures reliable, constant data feed

It is our aim to never promise what we cannot deliver.

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