Experts at Riviera’s Just-in-Time (JIT) operations: a loaded issue for bulk carriers webinar dissected one of the major logistical issues facing dry bulk operators
International Taskforce Port Call Optimization (ITPCO) chairman Ben van Scherpenzeel discussed the practical obstacles facing JIT operations including charterparty contractual clauses.
The clauses stipulate that masters are expected to maintain a certain speed, a breach of which would lead to liabilities.
At present, communicating JIT operations is mainly done via radio as the vessel nears the port. Mr van Scherpenzeel said future operations should ensure the port reaches out to vessels in good time via digital communications.
Vessels arriving at and departing the port will have to synchronise operations at the pilot boarding place and at berth. The parties involved will also have to settle on nautical, cargo and ship services.
Mr van Scherpenzeel suggested using different maritime bodies to ensure reliable operational standards. To agree locations, he suggested the International Hydrographic Organization’s (IHO) navigational charts and data. For times, he suggested using IMO’s Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic. Finally, Mr van Scherpenzeel suggested using ISO technical standards for an overarching hierarchy.
There is no global platform for JIT operations yet and 78% of webinar attendees felt the industry is doing too little to optimise port calls.
Mr van Scherpenzeel said ITPCO encourages local ports to use available infrastructure and adopt use of the same technical standards to connect with other ports, in the short term.
“Then, you can have a decentralised global system” he said.
Hamburg Vessel Coordination Centre (HVCC) managing director Gerald Hirt shared the Port of Hamburg’s best practice guide for JIT arrivals.
HVCC - a joint venture between two competing terminal operators - runs two departments: the Nautical Terminal Coordination (NTC) handles traffic planning for large vessels, and the Feeder Logistics Center co-ordinates the feeder and barges within the port.
The NTC’s communication channels allow the terminals at the Port of Hamburg, carriers and agents to exchange data on their plans over the coming 36-48 hours. By facilitating data exchange via a digital port collaboration platform, HVCC can identify any conflict in different operational plans and discuss these issues with the Hamburg Port Authority.
Mr Hirt said HVCC also provides inbound passage plans to carriers before the vessels arrive in Hamburg. These are recommendations and include suggested speed, time of arrival, tidal and wind conditions and traffic levels.
In addition to the JIT arrival, Mr Hirt said carriers will benefit from an optimised passage arrival, increased bunker savings and port call optimisation which will ensure a more efficient use of port infrastructure.
However, a poll of webinar attendees showed that 63% felt the prompt delivery of cargo is more important than the reduction in bunker costs.
Mr Hirt and ClassNK managing director for Middle East and South Asia M Abdul Rahim flagged the need for co-operation in JIT operations. Mr Rahim said “Sometimes terminals and ships have an understanding with regards to loading but sometimes the terminals deviate from this.”
Mr Hirt said the Port of Hamburg and the competing Port of Rotterdam set up an interface in a matter of days but spent months coming to a settlement regarding data sharing.
“When it comes to trust and data exchange agreements, ‘what are you allowed to do with the data I share with you’ is an important topic,” he said.
MacGregor Ship Type sales manager Mikael Hägglund considered safety in cargo handling. New technology such as variable frequency drive (VFD) electric cranes increase the speed of cranes during both retardation and acceleration, while improving the accuracy of handling loads at higher speeds. VFD technology uses no mineral or hydraulic oils, eliminating the hazards of possible leakages.
Operators will also benefit from a new cabin display system with early warnings, status updates and an anti-collision system on board. A crane information system allows all cranes to connect to a single portal at the vessel’s bridge.
“Efficiency and performance has an impact on the length of port calls. It is important to have a crane that operates at full speed in all directions so you can optimise the turnover cycle and make the loading more efficient” said Mr Hägglund.
Mr Rahim noted the competing concerns between loading efficiency and a vessel’s structural strength. Loading rates are governed by the sensitivity of global hull girder still water shear forces (SWSF) and still water bending moment (SWBM), the overloading of the local structure and synchronising ballast operations.
Terminal operators’ need for faster handling often results in high-speed cargo operations. Mr Rahim said the vessel’s ballast adjustment should be in sync with such measures. He said considering loading efficiency at the design stage can help avoid the problem.
Unsynchronised cargo loading can cause the SWSF and SWBM to exceed their allowable limits. ClassNK’s digital smart ship notation hull monitoring (DSS HM) system monitors hull stress during cargo operations. Operators can use the DSS HM to ensure the hull girder stress does not exceed the SWSF and SWBM. Audible and visible alarms connected to a ship’s control panel alert operators to any discrepancy while the system allows for the intermediate and final stage of loading to be simulated in real time.
Some 81% of webinar attendees felt that such autonomous subsystems and vessels will improve the efficiency within ports in the future, while 62% of attendees said they felt confident existing data systems would protect their place in the queue at port calls. Almost unanimously, 92% felt digital passage plans and transparency would benefit their organisation. However 63% were not confident that a ship arriving 48 hours before the berth is available would ensure timely arrival of the cargo.
M Abdul Rahim, Managing Director, Middle East and South Asia, ClassNK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai)
Gerald Hirt, Managing Director, HVCC Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center
Ben van Scherpenzeel, Chairman, International Taskforce Port Call Optimization
Mikael Hägglund, Ship Type Sales Manager, MacGregor Sweden (Lifting and Machinery Systems)