The mooring of ships on and off the berth does not only require a lot of caution but also precision. In this article we discuss the increase in ease of this process with the help of distance lasers that are synonymous with precision and accuracy.

What is berthing?

Ships have special maneuvers just like we know with cars. This consists of maneuvers other than sailing forward. In particular, we will look at the process of berthing. This is the controlled guiding of the ship towards a location in the port to the point that it is attached.

During this maneuver it is extremely important that every movement of the ship is constantly monitored: how much spare space is there? What is the distance to the quay? Is there another ship that is too close?

With the help of a distance laser this can be done reliably, with high precision and over greater distances than more conventional sensor solutions.

Why equip berthing systems with distance lasers?


The amount with which a sensor can switch consecutively is an important matter: the higher the frequency, the better. If the sensor – no matter the accuracy – records a distance every 30 seconds, that can be too late. The rest of the systems on the ship will only know what is going on once every half a minute. This is unacceptable as well for a reliable and even just a working solution for berthing. Distance lasers, however, can have a measuring frequency of up to 40 kHz (40,000 measurements per second!).

Great measuring range

During berthing it is of utmost importance to maintain good oversight over an area as large as possible. The earlier a ship is detected, the earlier a maneuver can start in a guided manner. Moreover, other technologies such as ultrasonic and electromagnetic inductive sensors have such a limited range that the ship or the quay are detected too late. Distance lasers measure up to 1,200 meters!


In most marine applications, on-shore as well as off-shore, external factors such as weather circumstances are impossible to disregard. These are realistic risks with a significant impact. A heavy storm can sabotage the internal workings of a sensor if it has a low waterproof protection class or none at all. The same goes for sea and ocean waters. On ships, heat and impact can also be a danger for preserving the sensor application. Especially for this, the sensor can be equipped with special explosion-safe housings (ATEX), that literally can take a beating.

High precision

A meter or just a few centimeters can make the difference in successful berthing. The resolution of a sensor , simply put, shows what the smallest difference a sensor can perceive. There are sensors that only switch to a half meter shift. For this application, this would mean that the ship's control unit receives information too late about the relative position to the quay is and whether a collision has happenned or not. With a distance laser, the relative distance to the quay can be determined down to millimiters.

Reliable distance lasers that can do the job

Below we have a selection from our range of distance lasers that can make the difference in berthing. The laser sensors differ in measuring ranges, switching frequencies and supported interfaces. There is a solution for every application.

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