Optimise your AtoN asset management strategy (English / Latin Spanish)


Optimise your AtoN asset management strategy (English / Latin Spanish)

Optimise your AtoN asset management strategy (English / Latin Spanish)

By:Sealite | September 06, 2022


As a global community, we have a heavy reliance on maritime transport. Our oceans provide the main transport arteries for global trade and around 90% of those traded goods are carried by ocean shipping.1  Furthermore, the demand for global freight shows no signs of slowing down as maritime trade volumes are set to triple by 2050.It is essential, now more than ever, for ports and harbour authorities to ensure smooth and sustainable operations, the efficient passage of goods and vessels; and the safety of crews and local communities.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the marine industry and its supply chains were among the services recognised as essential and continued to operate at full capacity. The pandemic still affects the industry as ports are experiencing an increase in delays and handling times. Consequently, global supply chains have experienced increased pressure. This has led to a shift towards assessing operational risk and developing dynamic strategies to manage this ever-changing situation.

To ensure the safe and efficient passage of vessels and personnel in and out of port, optimal performance and reliability of marine Aids to Navigation (AtoN) is critical.

90% of trade is carried by sea

Our oceans provide the main transport arteries for global trade and around 90% of those traded goods are carried by ocean shipping.

Are you adhering to the Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) Convention? 

For AtoN managers, identifying and averting risk is a top priority. Their obligation is to provide reliable services to ensure the smooth passage of vessels, the safety of crews, the public, and the environment. Authorities are facing an increase in congestion at their ports and the emergent need to accommodate larger and faster vessels. When assessing risk and developing a management plan, a good place to start is by reviewing the current legislation.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) publishes the International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS). This Convention provides the minimum standards that must be adhered to for the construction, equipment, and operation of ships.3  Chapter V specifically refers to the safety of navigation for vessels at sea that states the Contracting Government can deem what is necessary and practical for Aids to Navigation depending on marine traffic and the degree of risk.

The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) has developed corresponding standards. The IALA Maritime Buoyage System forms part of SOLAS Chapter V. It ensures there is a uniform approach by industry when establishing aids to navigation.

IALA Availability Objectives

The IALA Recommendation R0130 states that the availability or the probability that the AtoN is performing its specified function at any given time must meet 95% of its total time. If the AtoN performs below the requirement, replacement or discontinuance must be considered.

AtoNs are divided into three categories reflecting the navigational significance:

  • Category 1
    An AtoN is considered to be of vital navigational significance. For example, they mark the primary route, channel, or danger.
  • Category 2
    An AtoN is considered of important navigational significance. For example, it marks secondary or supplemental routes.
  • Category 3:
    An AtoN is considered to be of necessary navigational significance.
Category Availability Objective (%) Calculation Period
1 99.8% Availability Objectives are calculated over a continuous three (3) year period unless otherwise specified.
2 99.0%
3 97.0%


Maritime trade volumes are set to triple by 2050.

The demand for global freight shows no signs of slowing down as maritime trade volumes are set to triple by 2050.

Do you know the status of your AtoNs?

Historically, AtoNs were unmonitored. Human observation determined outage and potential non-compliance while repairs and inspections were completed during scheduled maintenance. The importance of remote asset monitoring has been growing as more authorities need to comply with SOLAS Convention.

National authorities use the outcomes of a risk assessment to identify and categorise their AtoN assets. These assets are depicted in navigational charts to help mariners optimise their travel routes and arrive at their destination without incident. National authorities worldwide need to ensure their critical assets are present and working as expected.

Advancements in new technology can improve visibility and help reduce operational and maintenance costs. Satellite monitoring, AIS and Bluetooth connectivity are all options that can also be considered. Managed by a central asset management system with reporting and alerts, these technologies provide the visibility and tools for an immediate response. Risk assessments can provide business cases for improved AtoNs, which informs asset, management plans.

Risk in a maritime sense is evaluated on the level of probability and the potential consequence should an event occur. The need for providers to undertake a thorough risk assessment has never been so important. Any disruption to services and their impact on safety and/or the environment can have a heavy financial cost for operators.

It is recommended a risk assessment be conducted:

  • Before establishing a new AtoN,
  • When replacing an existing AtoN; or
  • When risk changes.

The process should involve relevant stakeholders to assess the current need, the required range, and the traffic density. In addition, they will need to accommodate the size and types of vessels entering the port. The risk assessment should consider not only the initial capital investment but also the potential cost over the expected life of the AtoN.

Sealite’s range of remote monitoring and control systems provide users, such as port and harbour authorities, with the ability to effectively and efficiently observe and maintain their AtoN installations from real-time data at a low cost. Contact us to find out more.


  1. OECD – Ocean Shipping and Shipbuilding
  2. International Transport Forum – Performance of Maritime Logistics
  3. The International Maritime Organisation – International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS)

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