Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion

Samwoo Immersion uses a digital twin for efficient port logistics management

November 3, 2022
Busan Port is South Korea’s largest trading port, serving as a hub for maritime logistics. The port’s monitoring systems, however, were previously inefficiently managed, with separate systems for operations, safety, and forecasting.

To improve operational efficiency, Busan Port collaborated with Samwoo Immersion—a leading provider of industrial XR solutions—to install a monitoring system as a pilot for Sinseondae Pier located in Busan Port Terminal.

Known as the VARLOS Terminal Monitoring System, the solution is a digital twin of Sinseondae Pier into which live IoT data from the physical site is fed.
 

Before the introduction of this new system, the existing monitoring systems at Sinseondae Pier only offered limited data on operations, and a closed-circuit TV was the best available option for checking on terminal processes.

With stricter legislation coming into force to protect the safety of on-site personnel, a new approach was required that could enable a wide range of data to be monitored in real time in an integrated manner.

These needs led to the development of VARLOS—a 3D digital control and monitoring system that collects data from the port terminal continuously, and visualizes this massive dataset.

Data from GPS trackers embedded on vehicles and loading equipment is fed into the digital twin for 3D visualization of the entry and release of containers, equipment, and loading status in real time. This helps ensure the safe running of the terminal and enables more intuitive monitoring.

The system also facilitates more productive communication between terminal employees in the office and technicians on site. If an incident occurs on site, it can be reported more promptly and with specific detail so that the circumstances can be better understood and addressed.

What’s more, the data collected can be used for AI-based analysis and forecasting simulation, opening up ways to make the operations of the terminal more efficient. These include improving the productivity of cranes and reducing the number of unnecessary transport vehicles.
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Site monitoring through the closed-circuit TV linked to VARLOS
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Site monitoring through the closed-circuit TV linked to VARLOS
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Real-time monitoring from the control room
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Real-time monitoring from the control room
While there are a number of reasons why Samwoo Immersion leveraged Unreal Engine to build this advanced system, the most significant was that Unreal Engine supports the integration of Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) data and the WGS84 coordinate system (the system used by GPS).

To create an accurate digital twin of this type, it is essential to conduct topographical mapping using the satellite map-based tiling method, as well as synchronizing with Geo IoT data. Samwoo Immersion was able to integrate GIS data by using a geo-referencing plugin within Unreal Engine, where the data for distributed coordinate systems are unified to the WGS84 coordinate system.

MQTT is an ISO standard method that is widely used for low-powered broadband telecommunication networks for real-time data transmission and the communication method of IoT sensing devices used at a number of port terminals both in Korea and overseas. Given the nature of wireless terminals, IoT interfaces require a low-powered, lightweight protocol, and MQTT is the messaging protocol that meets this requirement.

This made the integration of real-time MQTT data a key requirement for the system. “Having access to Unreal Engine’s full source code was also incredibly useful for data integration,” says Hyunbeen Kim, CTO at Samwoo Immersion, adding that this access enabled Samwoo Immersion to edit the necessary code without restriction and integrate the data, and to offer all the essential functions requested by the client. What’s more, because it is a standard IoT platform based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE)—a 4G technology—and the 5G network, the platform also has the scalability to synchronize with any IoT device.
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Topographical mapping that uses the tiling method based on satellite maps and synchronization of the Geo-IoT data
Another reason Samwoo Immersion opted to use Unreal Engine is that it can immediately apply realistic 3D data with high-resolution textures on site and produce real-time visualization of the results without compromising performance, Kim explains. “Before the coding process began, Blueprint visual scripting was used to create and assess the overall pipeline intuitively and more quickly, which shortened the time needed for iteration,” he says. “Furthermore, various plugins and assets offered in the Unreal Engine Marketplace helped to drastically shorten the development period.”
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Realistic 3D data with high resolution textures
Kim adds that a variety of Unreal Engine’s built-in features made the management of 3D objects and events much easier. World Outliner enabled Samwoo Immersion to efficiently manage the numerous objects existing in the world, and the collision feature was used to create a trigger that would detect collisions between objects to control them more effectively.

To simulate and verify the flow of the loading process in advance, which would in turn identify tasks that might overlap between the terminal’s equipment and facilities, the team incorporated the collision detection trigger and the satellite-based GIS data into the digital twin. “This greatly helped in improving the terminal’s operation efficiency,” says Kim.
Image courtesy of Samwoo Immersion
Simulation on detecting collisions between objects
Through this project, Samwoo Immersion has learned a great deal about building digital twins using GIS data. They are now further researching these concepts and expanding on their knowledge to build various XR integration solution environments.
 
The company is currently working on a highly immersive experience that leverages different Unreal Engine features. Most recently, Samwoo Immersion has been actively applying the powerful features of Unreal Engine to the frontlines of the defense industry, in flight simulators that require a massive environment based on real-world topography.

Samwoo Immersion’s next goal is to apply the latest Unreal Engine 5 features, such as World Partition and Nanite, to expand the digital twin into a large-scale Open World.

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