The potential of 3D modelling in the Maritime Logistics

30.8.2023Pyry Lähde, Kalle Toivonen, Susan Råberg-VikkulaNews

In the MeriLoki - project, simulation and 3D modelling in port environments played a major role. One of the results of the project is the evaluation of the implementation of 3D modelling and simulation in the overall maritime logistics.

Two people are standing in front of computers doing 3D modelling.

3D modelling and simulations are part of the future of maritime logistics

3D technology can be used as an efficient and high-quality tool for the design and optimization of maritime logistics processes and the analysis of different infrastructures. In the future 3D modelling, and related technologies will take significant leaps forward in those areas of maritime logistics where they are expected to bring cost benefits. Other technologies include Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), with Augmented Reality (XR) being the umbrella term that unites the technologies.

The potential of 3D modelling and simulation has been recognized across the logistics chain, from inland logistics to port logistics and the planning of goods routes. Modelling warehouses and logistics centers can be used to optimize material flows, design storage solutions and build new layouts. It can also be used to adapt automation solutions to industrial environments. The results of the experience gained in industrial environments can also be applied to port environments.

Increased work satisfaction and attractiveness in recruitment in the maritime cluster business sector due to new technologies

3D glasses provide an interactive training environment for maritime logistics workers. Employees use the glasses for tasks such as container handling, warehouse management and compliance with safety protocols. In addition, 3D glasses can be used to create virtual action models that allow workers to perform various tasks in predefined situations.
The 3D glasses provide real-time information and instructions to the user. This includes container location and handling instructions, for example for container units containing hazardous materials. 3D glasses are seen as a useful tool for facilitating work and increasing safety, and more real-time information can be shared remotely by adding digitally virtual aspects to reality.

3D technologies and augmented reality as tools for port operations and maintenance
3D glasses can bring VR and AR elements into the working environment of maritime logistics. VR glasses can be used to simulate different situations, such as traffic in the port area or emergency situations. AR glasses can be used to send real-time instructions to workers, for example on handling a container or organizing a warehouse.
3D technologies can help in the maintenance and repair of ships and port equipment. Maintenance staff can use the glasses to receive instructions and visual information about the item to be repaired. In addition, machine suppliers can remotely provide maintenance instructions to the ship or port equipment maintenance team, speeding up repairs and reducing downtime. 3D glasses can be part of security systems and surveillance in port areas. Security personnel can use the glasses to obtain real-time information, view surveillance cameras and identify possible anomalies or security threats.

The use of 3D technology in maritime logistics design, with a case study on port environments:

3D modelling offers many benefits to maritime logistics by helping to plan and optimize the operations of ports, ships, warehouses, and transport routes, leading to more efficient and economic logistics processes. In addition, 3D modelling can help visualize and analyze various factors such as the movement of goods flows, port area capacities and security aspects, which are important for managing maritime logistics and identifying risks. Also, for specialized transport, the planning of different variations is a big opportunity offered by 3D modelling in port areas through which, for example, new types of cargo units will pass.

In port environments, the benefits of the technologies will be highlighted, for example through the layout of the port's activities in the planning process of port operations. On the ship operations there are also opportunities for ship unloading and loading operations, as well as cargo and vessel inspection operations. The following is a list of possible applications of augmented reality in port environments:

a) Benefits for port and terminal planning:

3D modelling provides more detailed and higher quality layout material for the design of ports and terminals, as well as a more efficient design process. Modelling port infrastructure in a 3D environment allows the functionality of various elements such as quay areas, cranes, warehouses and traffic areas to be examined. 3D design tools ensure smoother loading and unloading operations and more efficient movement of goods flows in the port. 3D modelling allows the infrastructure to be made concrete before it is actually built, thus allowing potential problem areas to be identified in advance and made operational before the infrastructure design is implemented.

b) To assist in the planning of loading and unloading of ships:

3D modelling can be used to optimize the processes involved in the handling of cargo on board ships. Simulating the loading and unloading of a ship in a 3D environment allows for a smooth layout of the different cargoes and efficient use of the cargo handling equipment. This helps to minimize the time, energy and resources spent on cargo handling operations. 3D modelling helps to identify potential problems and challenges in loading processes and to solve them in advance and improve them.

c) As a planning tool for warehouses and logistics centers:

3D modelling can be used to design warehouses and logistics centers more efficiently and with higher quality. The modelling of warehouse interiors in a 3D environment helps to optimize warehouse layouts, shelf placement and internal logistical transport arrangements in warehouse areas. These activities will improve the functionality of warehouses and increase the efficiency of product handling and storage.

d) Planning transport routes:

3D modelling can be used as one of the tools in the planning process of maritime logistics transport routes. Using 3D maps and route planning tools, maritime routes can be analyzed and optimized considering various factors related to the marine environment, such as depth, seabed formations, weather conditions and traffic flows. This type of planning can improve route efficiency, safety and adherence to schedules.


3D modelling and related technologies will play an increasingly important role in the future. However, more detailed design functions will need to be made to the port or cargo. For some operations, the technologies can go a long way, while for others their benefits are more minimal. An essential part is to prepare the ground for the introduction of technologies in the strategic work of companies, as well as in efficiency thinking and investment considerations. The future competitiveness of traditional industrials and ports will require large-scale investment in energy solutions alone, in the planning of which 3D technology is also seen as playing an important role.


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