Cabinet for Economic Development
High-Tech Paducah Company Awarded $150,000 to Develop Barge Monitoring Technology

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 25, 2010  
Contact Information:  Mandy Lambert, (502) 564-7670  

Waterway Innovations develops wireless sensors to help owners monitor barge operations, increase safety and cost savings 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 25, 2010) – Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the award of up to $150,000 from the Cabinet for Economic Development’s High-Tech Pool to Paducah-based Waterway Innovations.  The award, which was preliminarily approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA), will assist the company in developing two monitoring systems that relay vital information to barge owners and operators.  

A client of the Murray Innovation and Commercialization Center, Waterway Innovations anticipates creating nine new high-tech jobs paying an average annual salary of $68,000, exclusive of benefits. 

“As a top coal producing state, Kentucky has long relied on river barges to move our coal to power plants,” said Gov. Beshear. “The awards made today by KEDFA will not only create new high-paying jobs, but will support the further development of advanced technologies that can help barge owners and operators ensure the continued safe and efficient river transport of coal and other valuable bulk cargo.” 

In addition to the barge monitoring systems, Waterway Innovation has a 24/7 central monitoring location via GPS, cellular and wireless technology. BargeOptimizerTM is a solar-powered system that communicates wirelessly with battery-powered sensors located on each barge wing tank, which are air-filled tanks used to keep the barge afloat. A submersible sensor in each tank triggers an alarm if water ingress is detected. The system is compatible with barges that transport bulk solid materials, which is the majority of the market.  

A second system under development, DraftOptimizerTM, features a small, hand-held unit that produces an easy-to-read display of the water line along all four sides of a barge as it is being loaded. Ultrasonic sensors installed on the barge sides measure the distance to the water surface and transmit this information wirelessly to the hand-held device. The system enables faster and more accurate measurements of a barge’s draft than the conventional technique of continually having workers manually measure the draft height on all four sides of the barge as it is loaded.  

The two systems can provide cost-saving opportunities for barge operators and owners, including more effective use of manpower, reducing insurance premiums, minimizing missed drop-offs and helping avoid barge collisions. 

Kentucky has the largest inland waterway system in the United States.  We at Waterway Innovations are pleased to have been chosen for this funding by the state to provide technology solutions not only to Kentucky, but to the entire U.S. and the global inland waterway systems,” said Jeremy Breedlove, president and CEO of Waterway Innovations LLC. “We believe that investments in Kentucky companies will empower our state to be more competitive in all areas of the world economy and help all Kentuckians move forward in the global market place.”

The awards were funded through the Cabinet for Economic Development’s High-Tech Investment Pool, which is used to build technology-based and research-intensive companies and projects. Kentucky’s statewide network of six Innovation and Commercialization Centers and seven Innovation Centers provides locally accessible, business-building consulting and related services to Kentucky entrepreneurs and scientists.

A detailed community profile for Paducah (McCracken County) can be viewed at  Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at