Germany is one of the world's most important logistics hubs. Almost a third of all German foreign trade passes through German seaports. Inland navigation also contributes to the economic strength of the country's waterways. Goods can be transported on inland waterways at relatively low cost and with less pollution per km/ton of transported goods. Moreover, as well as offering economic and ecological benefits, inland waterways have spare capacity for freight and this must be used to take some of the pressure off of the road and rail sector caused by rising freight volumes.

In order to improve mobility, the ship and waterway system, and the interactions within it, must be considered in more depth and developed further. The BAW performs integrated analyses and evaluations of ways in which structures, river engineering and ship dynamics can be optimised – from assistance systems to waterway management, from more efficient locks to strategies for dealing with extreme weather events.