Savvy shipowners and managers are investing in optimisation technology to demonstrate and ensure regulatory and environmental compliance
Increasingly stringent regulations and concerns around the environmental impact of shipping mean shipowners and managers need to demonstrate their green credentials not only to regulatory bodies but to potential customers, too. In the highly competitive international shipping market, those who do not leverage technology to optimise the performance of their vessels and fleets risk being left behind.
But as vessels become more complex, with an increasing number of variables to consider and a flood of data from onboard systems, tools are needed to aid owners and operators in finding signal amidst the noise. Riviera Maritime Media’s Optimised Ship Forum events aim to deliver the practical insights shipowners and ship management companies need to drive forward vessel efficiency and performance management.
The inaugural event took place in Hamburg on 1 October, with a follow-up event in London scheduled for 11 December. Optimisation expertise at the Hamburg event came from shipowners, ship managers, class societies and industry associations, along with Germany’s maritime ambassador to IMO Monika Breuch-Moritz.
“There has been a lot of talk about big data and digitalisation recently, but digitalisation is just a means to an end, and the end is optimisation,” said Columbia Shipmanagement’s (CSM) Hamburg managing director Joachim Brack, presenting on his company’s experiences with digitalisation.
“Companies have to be market-facing, they have to determine what clients and what the market needs and wants, then digitalise that,” he said, adding “This way they can optimise relevant areas of their service offering.”
CSM’s optimisation is focused on clients’ vessel performance, with safer, more efficient vessels that save money and time being more attractive to charterers.
To this end, CSM established a performance optimisation control room in Limassol, Cyprus. This facility is manned 24/7 and as well as being used to monitor vessels under CSM’s management, it is open for use by third parties.
Areas of optimisation include bunker consumption, delays in loading and discharging at ports, preventative maintenance techniques, crew rotation and training requirements, weather routeing, avoiding disaster areas, and more. A traffic light system is used to assess vessels, highlighting where attention is needed most urgently, Mr Brack explained.
“To be competitive you have to know how your assets perform”
Clients and charterers can specify the key performance indicators used, and Mr Brack estimated a per-vessel monthly charge of US$250.
The kind of savings enabled by this optimisation are illustrated by the example shared by Mr Brack of a vessel that achieved bunker savings of US$100,000 by rerouteing to avoid bad weather as a result of the monitoring process.
“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 the Fleet Support Centre, we understand performance as fuel efficiency as well as vessel utilisation,” he added, noting that one way fuel efficiency can be achieved is by monitoring and optimising trim – the difference between the forward and aft draft.
Mr Köpke said Hapag-Lloyd generates 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.
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 seafarers 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?’ then give them feedback so you can tell them how they are doing,” said Mr Köpke.
A panel discussion on how to turn data into insightful decision-making formed one of the many highlights of the day, with contributions from Bernhard Schulte deputy chief operations officer Helge Bartels, Carnival Maritime senior vice president of technical operations Minas Miliaras, CLIA Europe manager of European Government Affairs Paul Altena, and Hapag-Lloyd’s fleet support centre head Martin Köpke.
The lack of standardisation and transparency in IoT and digitalisation was one of the main topics of discussion. The panellists were united in identifying the need for organisations such as ISO and IMO to work with industry on developing standards.
“Standards will eventually happen, we don’t know when or from who, so we had to develop our own,” said cruise operator Carnival Maritime’s Mr Miliaras.
He shared the example of how suppliers using their own fleet operations centres would come on board vessels and install different servers for different pieces of equipment. “We’d have maybe 10 different servers on board, transmitting their data to operations centre, consuming a lot of bandwidth, and many of them would transmit exactly the same data.”
“Now we’ve built a standard – we collect the data ourselves and transmit it to the cloud, then the supplier just connects to the cloud and requests the data they want.”
“They don’t need to install a server on board, and we don’t need to have double, triple or multiple levels of bandwidth consumption on our ships.”
Mr Köpke highlighted the multiple working groups within the container sector working on digitalisation solutions as joint industry projects, and the way the sector has previously collaborated to develop standards for containers and loading information.
He noted that crews of charter vessels may be asked to provide data for as many as four different stakeholders – the charterer, the ship manager, the owner and potential fourth parties – adding to the workload of seafarers on board the vessel, who may have their reporting workload doubled, tripled or even quadrupled due to the lack of standardisation.
“These kinds of innovative technologies don’t wait for the regulatory bodies,” said Mr Altena, adding that industry and technology providers must come together to make proposals to bodies such as IMO and ISO if standardisation is to be achieved.