How IoT improves efficiency at UK naval base

  • January 24, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

British IoT provider Smarter Technologies is supporting the digital innovations team at UK naval base HMNB Portsmouth with its proprietary Orion IoT data network.

The technology is helping increase the efficiency of port operations at HMNB Portsmouth, home to the majority of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, including the flagship aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and mine countermeasures squadrons are based in Portsmouth, one of the busiest harbours in the UK, with around 130,000 significant movements annually. It is also the home for ship repair and maintenance.

HMNB Portsmouth, like many military establishments, is a large and complex estate that presents significant infrastructure management difficulties and requires significant focus and innovative thinking to run efficiently, increase operational capability and reduce costs. This is especially true as the estate is historic in nature and not designed or constructed to meet modern operational needs.

The infrastructure asset management team at HMNB Portsmouth, keen to adopt digital innovations, approached Smarter Technologies to assist with the provision of real-time data from multiple sensor platforms across a large geographic footprint, to inform critical operational decision-making. Following an earlier demonstration of the smart sensor technology and Orion real-time IoT data network, Portsmouth invited Smarter Technologies to install depth sensors in each of the dockyard’s key operational and historic basins – No 3 Basin alone holds over 1300 million litres of water – and transit locks to monitor water levels.

Via an intuitive and customer-configurable dashboard, the sensors provided the asset management and waterfront teams with the empirical evidence they needed to adjust how and when the locks and pumps were used to optimise water levels. They could target assets for remediation to reduce unintended water flows and maintain effective waterfront operations.

As a result, unnecessary pumping operations were avoided, both long- and short-term targeted mitigation measures were implemented, and material operational efficiencies were realised, almost immediately delivering a return on investment.

“The management insight that Smarter Technologies has brought to the waterfront operation has been incredibly helpful, and it’s been amazing just how quickly it gave us the evidence-base we needed to do things differently and do things better,” said Simon Kierstan, the navy’s strategic infrastructure lead at Portsmouth. “This is just one part of a much broader digital innovation programme at Portsmouth naval base, which is gathering momentum and delivering significant step-changes in capability with each enhancement.”

Mark Read, CEO of Smarter Technologies (, added: “We’re just delighted to be working with Simon and the management team at Portsmouth and to deliver value for them. We pride ourselves in delivering the end-to-end options that our customers need. It’s our knowledge and expertise, working in partnership with our clients, that enable such digital transformation programmes to succeed and enable end users to improve their critical operational decision making using real-time data.”