The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced that it will receive an award from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for developing the world’s first Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) system for ships transiting its locks. The Promising Innovation in Transport Award is offered by the International Transport Forum at the OECD, an intergovernmental organization for the transport sector, with 54 member countries. It will be presented on May 28th in Leipzig, Germany, during the 2015 Summit of Transport Ministers.

SLSMC will receive the award in the freight category for its pioneering work, with the aid of its supplier Cavotec. The St. Lawrence Seaway’s 15 locks serve to lift ships a total of 168 meters (551 feet) as they transit from Montreal to Lake Erie. The HFM system employs vacuum pads mounted on vertical rails to secure the ship during the lockage process, tracking the ship as it is raised or lowered, while keeping it at a fixed distance from the lock wall. With this equipment, SLSMC will replace the traditional practice of manually securing cargo ships in locks with steel mooring lines, which is time consuming, labour intensive and potentially dangerous if a line breaks. This revised method of processing ships will enable SLSMC to achieve gains in operating productivity and safety.

Full deployment of HFM at all high-lift locks is slated to be complete in 2018.