Monitoring trim gives a clearer picture of both vessel and fleet performance and can also reduce costs
“If you want to be competitive you have to know what’s going on in your company, and how your assets perform,” said Hapag-Lloyd Fleet Support Centre’s Martin Köpke at Riviera Maritime Media’s inaugural Optimised Ship Forum in Hamburg on 1 October.
“At the Fleet Support Centre we understand performance as fuel efficiency as well as vessel utilisation,” he said, adding that this also involves assessing whether vessels are operating on the correct service for their design conditions.
“We need to be fuel efficient, and one way to be more fuel efficient is of course trim,” explained.
Mr Köpke said Hapag-Lloyd is able to generate operational savings of roughly 1.5% through trim optimisation, and while this may not seem a large amount, when considered fleetwide – Hapag-Lloyd has trim tools installed on 145 of its 237-strong fleet – these savings soon add up.
The Fleet Support Centre uses computational fluid dynamics to model vessel performance and sailing conditions for a given route, enabling them to make recommendations to the vessel’s crew on whether to trim forward, astern, or to keep an even keel. This communication is two-way, with the Fleet Support Centre continuously monitoring the vessel’s performance, and the crew providing feedback on issues that may make trimming difficult or not possible, said Mr Köpke. Such obstacles can involve concerns around ballast water in coastal areas and ports, equipment failure, inclement weather, or vessels reaching maximum displacement, although the main cause tends to be based around exceeding stress limits for the vessel.
This is where Hapag-Lloyd’s stowage planners play a key role in the process of trim optimisation, with vessel stress factored in during the process of stowage planning. The stowage planners have access to the trim tools and can identify how this will be affected by vessel stresses during the planning stage and can communicate with the vessel on this. “This is probably the most important thing about trimming and utilising trim potential, that the planner and vessels are able to talk,” said Mr Köpke.
A vessel captain with recent sea experience will also be present in the Fleet Support Centre to provide the seafarer’s perspective, explained Mr Köpke, adding :“They will know what real life looks like out there because we’re just in the office and we’re not rocking and rolling.”
Insights into trim performance also provide Hapag-Lloyd with a stepping-off point for further actions. These include: identifying optimal vessels for a particular service, based on performance characteristics when laden such as draft and speed; evaluating hull performance, for example developing speed-power expectations that can be compared to operational reporting data and identifying hulls in need of cleaning; and changes to the vessel, such as evaluating retrofits of bulbous bows when a vessel’s original design point does not match its operational profile.
Along with monitoring and tracking carried out remotely from the Fleet Support Centre, involving seaferers in reciprocal feedback is essential, explained Mr Köpke. This means not just the Fleet Support Centre making recommendations to the crew based on tracking and monitoring data, but bringing the crew into the Fleet Support Centre to pass on their own feedback.
“You need to involve the crew and ask ‘where are the obstacles?’ and where they see problems, And then give them feedback so you can tell them how they are doing,” said Mr Köpke.
Riviera Maritime Media’s next Optimised Ship Forum is scheduled to be held in London on 11 December