Adding tidal data to ECDIS will improve the information available to navigators for voyage planning and assist managers in post-voyage analysis
Advances in metocean data allows ship operators to optimise their coastal routes without affecting navigational safety and managers to improve fuel efficiency through post-voyage analysis of tidal, current and weather information.
Navigators use tidal data on the electronic planning stations at the back of the ship’s bridge along with electronic navigational charts (ENCs) and weather information for planning optimal routes for fuel consumption and port scheduling.
Routes are checked with tidal data to prevent groundings during low tide, then transferred to the main navigational ECDIS on the bridge to execute the voyage.
Tidal data is available from various sources, including Tidetech Commercial Marine and the UK’s Hydrographic Office (UKHO). Data quality has improved to a level that operators of shortsea shipping, ferries and offshore vessels are using it for planning their routes, said Tidetech managing director Penny Haire.
She told Marine Electronics & Communications that more shipping companies are recognising the opportunities afforded from weather and tidal data sets. “Smarter navigation helps operators maintain more consistent vessel speed and schedule-keeping to save money and reduce fuel consumption and air emissions,” she said.
“The opportunities exist as much for liner operators sailing the biggest container ships as those who trade intra-regional routes”
“The opportunities exist as much for liner operators sailing the biggest container ships as those who trade intra-regional routes,” she explained. “It [also assists] tanker and bulk carrier operators looking to maximise earnings voyage-by-voyage.”
Tidetech can generate metocean data at any given waypoint in a voyage to provide weather, wave and current values along the whole voyage track. This is ideally suited to commercial post-voyage analysis, which can be fed back into future voyage plans.
The data can be delivered in high enough resolution to enable operators to optimise the coastal and regional legs of a voyage. Ms Haire said simulations run for shipowners on their routes across the North Atlantic have demonstrated there are more potential cost savings from optimising against currents in UK coastal and northern European waters, than there are across the whole Atlantic.
Tidetech has increased its metocean data to include tide, current, temperature, ice and weather information by developing a relational Data Cube, which enables navigators to visualise this information in three dimensions: longitude, latitude and time. Ms Haire said this helps navigators forecast metocean data for future voyages and perform post-voyage analysis.
The Data Cube stores information in a single, consistent format in constituent parts at the highest resolution. Data can be reorganised, reformatted and manipulated to individual shipping company requirements. Users can process the data, perform analytics and receive output in any format, such as in Excel or Google Earth files.
More information on tidal and wave data can be created through computer processing, which is why UKHO has released a new application programming interface for its Admiralty brand that enables access to UK tidal data. Software developers can use this interface to build tidal height and time predictions into their own online applications.
UKHO expects this information to give shipping a better understanding of coastal conditions around the UK to support a range of tasks, from navigation to helping emergency services plan rescue operations. Its UK tidal database contains height data from over 600 tidal gauges and 40 stations in the Environment Agency's UK National Tidal Network.