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Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) : a maritime information service or traffic control system?: understanding everyday performance and resilience in a socio-technical system under change
Chalmers University of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5356-5126
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) is a shore-side maritime assistance service that supports bridge teams in their safe navigation of port approaches and other areas that present navigational difficulties. The VTS is implemented in national waters and provides vessels with information through transmissions and broadcasts on Very High Frequency (VHF) radio. With a continued growth in the number, size and cargo volumes of merchant vessels, the role of the VTS has recently become a matter of discussion, and it has been argued that changes, such as implementing an aviation-like control system, would be of an enormous benefit for stakeholders and guarantee safe and efficient traffic movements in the future. The complexity of processes in safety-critical domains, such as maritime traffic management, is increasing due to continuing technical, organisational and environmental developments. The VTS is currently undergoing drastic changes, primarily driven by strategies and projects focusing on increasing the overall efficiency of the maritime transportation system through advanced technology. To reduce the risk of unforeseen consequences, it is important to study and understand the service and its contribution to traffic management before changes are implemented. The purpose of this thesis has been to increase the overall understanding of everyday performance of the VTS system and identify ways of modelling the performance of the service, as a contribution to the ongoing debate on the future needs of maritime traffic management. The VTS is described as socio-technical system that controls and manages maritime traffic in port approaches and other areas that pose navigational difficulties for bridge teams. Field data collected through semi-structured interviews, observations and focus groups have been analysed with the aid of concepts derived from Cognitive Systems Engineering (CSE) and Resilience Engineering (RE) to understand how the VTS actively contributes to safety through monitoring, responding to and anticipating changes in traffic patterns in the VTS area. The data have also been used to model performance variability in everyday operation with the aid of the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM). Performance variability is necessary for a system to be adaptive, and is therefore essential for the system’s functioning. By using the FRAM, a new angle of the VTS system has been explored to understand how variability in its functional units affects the overall system performance. The thesis demonstrates the importance of understanding how performance in a socio-technical system can vary and the consequences this may have. The FRAM can be used to analyse the functional design of a socio-technical system, and therefore help to identify and assess ways in which performance variability can be monitored and managed. By understanding the functional design of the VTS system and the complexity of everyday operation, stakeholders will be able to identify advantages and disadvantages of current system design and use this to consider how future demands can best be met.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Chalmers tekniska högskola , 2014.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie, ISSN 0346-718X ; 3729
Keyword [en]
Vessel Traffic Service, Traffic Management, Cognitive Systems Engineering, Resilience Engineering, Performance Variability, Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM)
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Transport Systems and Logistics
Research subject
Technology (byts ev till Engineering)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-61870ISBN: 978-91-7597-048-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-61870DiVA: diva2:1084991
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-03-28 Created: 2017-03-27 Last updated: 2017-03-28Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Learning lessons in resilient traffic management: A cross-domain study of Vessel Traffic Service and Air Traffic Control
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning lessons in resilient traffic management: A cross-domain study of Vessel Traffic Service and Air Traffic Control
2012 (English)In: Human Factors : a view from an integrative perspective: Proceedings HFES Europe Chapter Conference Toulouse 2012 / [ed] Dick de Waard, Karel Brookhuis, Frédéric Dehais, Clemens Weikert, Stefan Röttger, Dietrich Manzey, Sonja Biede, Florence Reuzeau, Patrice Terrier, Groningen: HFES Europe Chapter , 2012, 277-287 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Although younger than the maritime domain, aviation has had a huge impact on the system design and development within shipping. Stakeholders often look towards aviation to make shipping, and the way that traffic is handled and organised, safer, more efficient and more effective. Although legally not the same, Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) is frequently compared to Air Traffic Control (ATC). In this article the area of traffic management within the maritime and aviation domains is addressed from a Resilience Engineering perspective. Focus is placed on the arrival part of a mission. The comparison is based on information collected during two study visits at VTS centres and one study visit at an ATC centre. The two organisations are described with the help of the Resilient Engineering capabilities: to respond, to monitor, to anticipate, and to learn. Furthermore, it is discussed how VTS and ATC adapt to cope with the complexity encountered during daily work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Groningen: HFES Europe Chapter, 2012
Keyword
VTS, ATC, resilience, system design
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Applied Psychology
Research subject
Social Sciences, Psychology; Technology (byts ev till Engineering)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-61865 (URN)978-0-945289-44-9 (ISBN)
Conference
HFES Europe Chapter Conference Toulouse 2012
Available from: 2017-03-27 Created: 2017-03-27 Last updated: 2017-03-30Bibliographically approved
2. Maritime traffic management: a need for central coordination?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Maritime traffic management: a need for central coordination?
2014 (English)In: Cognition, Technology & Work, ISSN 1435-5558, E-ISSN 1435-5566, Vol. 16, no 1, 59-70 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Traffic management is not formally organised in the maritime domain. Ships are autonomous and find their own way. Traffic is organised through rules, regulations, and “good seamanship”; it is a distributed system. In areas of high traffic-density support is proved by vessel traffic service (VTS) to promote traffic safety and fluency. VTS does not take control. This organisational structure has proven itself in situations with sufficient resources. When resources become insufficient (e.g. not enough sailing space), the traffic needs an organising mechanism. In this article, the authors argue that the most promising way to do this is by organising centralised planning coordination, whilst leaving maritime traffic a distributed system with no additional central control.

Keyword
Traffic management, Distributed systems, Cognition, Cognitive engineering, Control Planning
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Transport Systems and Logistics
Research subject
Shipping, Maritime Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60518 (URN)10.1007/s10111-012-0244-5 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-02-06 Created: 2017-02-06 Last updated: 2017-03-27Bibliographically approved
3. Control and Resilience Within the Maritime Traffic Management Domain
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Control and Resilience Within the Maritime Traffic Management Domain
2014 (English)In: Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, ISSN 1555-3434, E-ISSN 2169-5032, Vol. 8, no 4, 303-317 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents research conducted within the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) domain. VTS is a service that is provided close to ports and geographically challenging areas to support merchant vessels in their navigation. Although VTS is legally an advice and assistance service, applying concepts from Cognitive Systems Engineering and Resilience Engineering can highlight how the joint human-machine system works to promote safe and efficient traffic movements. The VTS is a Joint Cognitive System that maintains control through a mixture of opportunistic and tactical control. Strategic control is only partially supported by the higher levels of system aggregation that provide the basis for defining daily operations within the settings of the VTS. To increase the VTS system’s ability to anticipate, respond, monitor, and learn, and therefore the ability to be resilient, there is a need to promote more strategic and tactical control within daily operations.

Keyword
vessel traffic management, cognitive systems engineering, qualitative field research, joint cognitive systems, resilience engineering
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Technology (byts ev till Engineering)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60509 (URN)10.1177/1555343414560022 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-02-06 Created: 2017-02-06 Last updated: 2017-03-27Bibliographically approved
4. Modelling Vessel Traffic Service to understand resilience in everyday operations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modelling Vessel Traffic Service to understand resilience in everyday operations
2015 (English)In: Reliability Engineering & System Safety, ISSN 0951-8320, E-ISSN 1879-0836, Vol. 141, 10-21 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) is a service to promote traffic fluency and safety in the entrance to ports. This article׳s purpose has been to explore everyday operations of the VTS system to gain insights in how it contributes to safe and efficient traffic movements. Interviews, focus groups and an observation have been conducted to collect data about everyday operations, as well as to grasp how the VTS system adapts to changing operational conditions. The results show that work within the VTS domain is highly complex and that the two systems modelled realise their services vastly differently, which in turn affects the systems׳ ability to monitor, respond and anticipate. This is of great importance to consider whenever changes are planned and implemented within the VTS domain. Only if everyday operations are properly analysed and understood, it can be estimated how alterations to technology and organisation will affect the overall system performance.

Keyword
Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM), Resilience engineering, System design
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Technology (byts ev till Engineering)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60508 (URN)10.1016/j.ress.2015.03.020 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-02-06 Created: 2017-02-06 Last updated: 2017-03-27Bibliographically approved

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