Seventy-one percent of the surface of our “blue planet” is covered by oceans which is also reflected in the fact that 80% of goods are moved via sea transportation within the global supply chain. Ships also account for around 3% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the acceleration of climate change. This in turn leads to melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and threatened biodiversity.
Apart from the environmental consequences of sea and air pollution, they also affect global trade. Directly putting seaport infrastructures and communities at risk, coastal flooding has become more commonplace as sea levels rise. Plus, extreme weather events and changing storm patterns challenge seafaring vessels.
To take the damaging effects of marine vessels into account, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reduced their allowable sulphur fuel emissions to just 0.5% from originally 3.5% as of January 1, 2020. It is the IMO’s strictest environmental regulation to date and ushered shipping and terminal sectors in a new era to transform the way marine supply chains operate. To see these regulations through, the IMO is aiming to reduce total annual greenhouse emissions by 2050 by at least 50% compared to 2008.
Operational efficiency and energy savings are closely linked. With increasing speed of the vessel, the fuel consumption – and pollutants it emits – rise. For ship operators, this means slower steaming, enabled by better informed planning and scheduling, reduces not only the impact on the environment but also fuel cost.
Waiting times in ports contribute to pollution, as the engine of a vessel stays running as it continues to power its onboard systems. For the terminal operator, this means minimizing the time a vessel is in port by providing reliable berthing slots, allowing the vessel to arrive exactly when needed, will further help the environment and drive down cost. This improved predictability offers further energy savings by facilitating better planning of port and hinterland operations as well as the onward supply chain logistics.
For this reason, it is critical to synchronize the port’s availability to serve the vessel with its arrival time which is determined by factors such as:
- Adherence to estimated time of departure at the port of disembarkation
- Weather conditions
- Maritime traffic
- Tidal conditions
A storm, for example, could slow the vessel down and increase transit time from one port to another. Equally, delays in one port can impact future vessel calls. Planning ahead before arrival at port means assessing availability and limitations of the terminal’s infrastructure, assets and manpower, with particular focus on:
- Port safe working hours
- Other planned vessel movements
- Designated berth’s compatibility with the arriving vessel
- Cargo transfer requirements
- Any safety considerations
- Tug/pilot boat availability
Marine optimization technologies help address all these issues. It allows operators across the supply chain to track vessels at every point in the journey. At port, the operator benefits from reducing the complexity of scheduling vessels in and out, improving efficiency, and ultimately environmental performance.
Making Use of Real-Time Information
Applying optimization technology in a practical environment increases efficiency while lowering the pollution footprint across the marine supply chain. By retrieving live information such as vessel position, weather forecasts and tidal flows combined with indicators such as vessel size, inventory or traffic, algorithms help to determine the expected arrival time. Furthermore, producing the optimum berthing schedule relies on fast computation of all the scheduling factors enabled by algorithms. This allows to maximize the use of port assets while flagging potential external disruptive influences.
Real-time information on status allows the system to determine if estimated and actual scenarios deviate. The algorithm will then amend the plan and ensure any knock-on effects on other vessels are minimized. To keep all relevant parties informed, the revised schedule can then be published to all stakeholders within the marine supply chain.
The system’s detailed task list is complemented by the vessel Gantt chart. A data capture facility scores the vessel on a variety of different measures, including environmental factors. Once in port, each stage can be monitored, from pilot onboarding and cargo transfer to disembarkation.
Marine optimization process technology provides end-to-end visibility and data capture. This makes it an invaluable platform for vessels, ports and third parties for continuous longer-term operational and environmental improvement.
The IMO 2020 regulation has set a precedent for further restrictions to come. By 2025, further measures are supposed to be adopted to keep environmental considerations top of the agenda for vessels, ports and third parties. With more stringent regulations, digital innovation becomes crucial to increase sustainability performance. Intelligent marine optimization systems focus on short-term and long-term planning horizons through an interactive planning board. Managing critical factors effectively with intelligent tools supports reducing the environmental footprint as well as deliver bottom-line energy-saving results.
Simon Shore is Managing Director for Supply Chain Modelling and Maritime solutions globally at Korber Supply Chain. Simon and his team are focused on using technology to help their customers identify the optimum supply chain strategy for their business. Simon has over 20 years’ experience in the supply chain software industry and has held Director positions in sales and services driving business benefits for his customers in the areas of warehouse management, customs and excise, freight forwarding and ERP. He studied engineering, is a Chartered Engineer, a member of the Institute of Engineering Technology and a member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.