Pushing ahead with Just-In-Time shipping

MarineTraffic joins leading shipping, ports, terminals in effort to tackle barriers to the Just-In-Time operation of ships

Implementing “Just-In-Time” (JIT) operations to cut the time ships spend idling outside ports can help cut emissions. This is good for the environment and can cut costs too. But there are a number of contractual and operational barriers to overcome before this could be implemented worldwide.

MarineTraffic has teamed up with leading shipping, ports, terminals and service providers in effort to tackle these barriers. Miluse Tichavska, Corporate Growth Manager at MarineTraffic, says the company is a proud member of the International Maritime Organisation’s Global Industry Alliance, while also being an active contributor and co-organiser of Just-In-Time efforts.

This is meaningful for MarineTraffic. We have gone from tracking ships to the offering of intelligence events. We now implement our vision of contributing to greener and more efficient operations by facilitating the advancement of global JIT operations and, a greater value,” says Miluse.

For some types of ships, such as bulk carriers and tankers, clauses in charter party contracts currently act as a barrier to the uptake of JIT. For other ship types, such as container ships, contractual barriers do not exist, allowing the ship’s master to reduce speed without breach of contract, thereby enabling JIT to start being implementing today.

Focusing on those ship types that can already contractually implement JIT, IMO’s Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (GIA) brought together a wide range of industry stakeholders to discuss how to operationally make JIT a global reality. Convening at IMO Headquarters in London last month, representatives from shipping companies, port authorities, terminal operators, service providers (such as ship agents, bunker providers and tug operators) and other maritime organisations, discussed in detail how to tackle existing operational barriers.

MarineTraffic and IMO’s Facilitation Committee

In this roundtable we have firstly raised a conceptual and practical awareness of JIT operations. We have then gone through definitions, barriers and potential solutions identified by our Taskforce. At last, discussions and progress have focused on the operational part of the port call business process. And in the opportunities and constraints found across the operational, contractual, and data components of its lifecycle,” explains Miluse.

The roundtable identified that for ports be able to provide incoming ships with a reliable berth arrival time, firstly a reliable departure time of the ship at berth needs to be achieved – which involves collaboration of many stakeholders. The ship currently at berth will only depart after loading, unloading, bunkering, provisioning and other critical services have all been completed. However, the terminal and other service providers currently share very few updates about completion times.

The roundtable also identified the need for global standardisation and harmonisation of data, which is currently being discussed under IMO’s Facilitation Committee, to provide ships with regular updates about the availability of berths, especially in the last twelve hours prior to port arrival. Timing the arrival can allow ships to optimise their speed – such as by slowing down – providing further reduction in the carbon footprint of shipping as well as saving on fuel costs. Additionally, it improves the safety of navigation and rest hour planning of both ship crew and nautical services.

We are entering a digitisation era where tracking and sensor technologies facilitate the visibility and the optimisation of logistics and cross-border operations. Data being produced, exchanged and used along every trade lane and its different waypoints through a variety of applications. MarineTraffic, dedicates its efforts to expanding frontiers within an industry and technological perspective of collaboration, interoperability and standardisation. In this respect, we have already achieved a positive impact over the years.  And we plan to continue in the same direction. Building the foundations of an integrated and digitised maritime ecosystem,” says Miluse.

MarineTraffic and IMO’s Facilitation Committee

GIA members plan to hold another meeting later this year to discuss contractual barriers to JIT. The alliance is also in the process of preparing a real-time JIT pilot trial, in order to test the tangible solutions identified so far and gather experience. The GIA will submit a progress report on its work on JIT to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) with a view to continue supporting IMO member States in tackling emissions from ships and reaching the ambitious emissions targets set out in IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy.

The GIA is a public-private partnership initiative of the IMO under the framework of the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloMEEP Project that aims to bring together maritime industry leaders to support an energy efficient and low carbon maritime transport system. The GIA currently has 15 members, representing leading shipowners and operators, classification societies, engine and technology builders and suppliers, big data providers, oil companies and ports.


A GIA video explaining the Just-In-Time concept can be viewed here.