Reducing costs & emissions with Maritime Analytics [webinar]

The MarineTraffic Maritime Analytics Conference had successfully been completed with this third and final digital session, focussing on how actionable maritime analytics can help reduce costs and emissions in the industry.

Our audience was truly global, joining this MarineTraffic webinar from all across the globe. More than 600 attendees had the chance to take part in the discussion, engage with our panelists through polls and ask questions during the Q&A session at the end.

Do we need incentives to achieve emissions reduction? What data must we improve (and make available) to help reduce emissions? Look at the images below showing what the audience have voted in each poll shared during the webinar. 

MarineTraffic poll

Watch the full webinar on-demand:

Argyris: Hello, everybody, I am Argyris Stasinakis from MarineTraffic. And I have a real pleasure to welcome you to our “Maritime Analytics Conference.” This is the third session and it’s a series of digital sessions on global maritime trends. And today I have the real pleasure to be here together with you and here we are. And our guest panelists Ed Carr, from Energy and Environmental Research Associates. Ben Van Sherpenseel, from the International Taskforce for Port Call Optimisation and Port Rotterdam. And Andreas M. Van der Wurff, from A.P. Moller-Maersk.

And we will discuss about how to reduce costs and emissions by using actionable Maritime Analytics. So the topic is a recurring one and the last time we met – that was sometime in July – we had a poll and we asked our viewers back then about what measures would have the greatest impact in improving port calls and optimising port calls. And the first one that came on the top back then from the audience was the optimisation of speed between ports and others coming second like facilitate simultaneous port operations in ports. All of these have some common elements which relate to data and analytics.

So today we will take up upon this theme and discuss topics which relate to optimisation and particular optimisation of the voyage. We have news for you on that one. So we often refer to just-in-time sailing, JIT. And essentially the notion that vessels travel towards their destination at an optimal speed so as to minimise waiting outside of the port.

And talking about waiting at port we typically witness vessels anchoring outside a port or indeed vessels maneuvering outside a port before going in. So there are various waiting states and depending on which port of the world you look at. 

So here is, for example, a cumulative view of what was happening around Gibraltar for vessels going towards Algeciras in Spain in 2019. We see that there are loads of events of, you know, in maneuvering or waiting states in the broader vicinity of the port. And indeed, you know, that happens everywhere in the world. This is a heat map with deep blue showing ports with a high waiting state at anchor. And likewise, if we analyse vessel voyages for, you know, looking for maneuvering states we again see that although things like that could be triggered throughout the voyages in the ocean. We see that the deep orange here does happen in, you know, outside of ports naturally.

So, you know what can we do in order to optimise voyages and how can data help us? 

And in order to move on to the discussion, I’d just like to say that there is a lot of data out there, you know, MarineTraffic is an AIS business, we measure what’s happening everywhere in the world. 

Here I’ve got an example about utilisation and congestion of a terminal, this is at the port of New York, I won’t say which. And you know, for the months of June, July, and August this year.

And you see that, for instance, the terminal was well utilised, you know, serving six ships in June July but then was serving less than that during the month of August. While at the same time in the same month we noticed that that particular terminal was also being congested. The bottom line in the series of charts is about vessels awaiting a tanker outside. So we see there are congestion events while the terminal probably could not satisfy high levels of traffic at the moment.

So the data seems to be there and what we would like to now ask you in order to start the discussion with you is, you know, start a poll. 

And essentially look into what data must we improve or indeed make available in order to reduce emissions and indeed improve savings?

So you can select multiple answers here, it’s not just one. We will hold it up there for 30 seconds, maybe a little bit more. Please go ahead and select as many of these you feel are relevant in improving, you know, the optimisation, in optimising a voyage and reducing emissions.

Let us see the results now, please. Okay, very well. We’ve got multiple answers selected. 

We see the expected ETA of the vessel as reported by the vessel itself. We see expected delay for a vessel waiting outside of port as reported by the terminal. We also see terminal congestion in real-time scoring pretty high. And this really makes sense. So thank you very much for sharing that. To start with, let me just go around a little bit with our panelists and start asking, you know, Ben, you know, are you surprised by these results? Is this something you expected to see?

Ben: Well, the only time that is really important to the captain to optimise the speed is what time the ship is requested to arrive at the para-boarding place. Coming from the port authority who’s overseeing the fairways and the planning of the Nautical Services. So if I, as a captain want to reduce speed that is the only timestamp that is relevant for me to calculate the speed to maintain to get waypoint. Oral information for me is, to be honest, not relevant.

Argyris: Thank you. Andreas, how is it from your side, how about this result?

Andreas: Yes, good afternoon. I’m Andreas. Yeah, it is to be expected and obviously, also, there are a lot of relevant, looking from a ship captain perspective, relevant answers. I do think however that the ETA as a captain you have the telegraph handle in your hands and you can be at a specific time at the pilot boarding place. 

However, that is not necessarily the most optimum speed, right, you are there. But the information that you would like to have as a captain is amongst others and that is also something from the times now, right, terminal congestion. But basically what you really want to know is when is the ship leaving the berth, when is the berth free. And then coming into like the negotiation of availability of pilot services and port access fairway and the availability of the Nautical Services.

Argyris: Okay, so that’s an interesting one now because you went, you know, of course, the RTA is an important bit but then you went into what defines the requested time of arrival as Ben mentioned. And then you went deeper a little bit which I think also maps onto the results of the poll. You know, the combined essentially estimate time of arrival of the vessel together with the availability of the terminal. We’re still facing a situation where some stakeholders need to take action and in this case, we talk about the ship terminal interface. 

We can see clear benefits from the vessel side, there could be some benefits from the terminal side, or the port authority side but not all that clear. I mean, Ben, what do you see what’s your experience at Rotterdam looking into the topic from some years already?

Ben: Well, terminals are, of course, more focused on maximum utilisation of the key capacity and any savings in terms of emissions, etc., are sort of restricted to that terminal area. So the pat on the shoulder for the terminal to save emissions in international waters today is not there yet. Looking at the port authority there are some benefits in reducing the number of ships at anchor. And therefore, of course, the amount of emissions at anchor, but that’s again depending on the anchor area, is it located outside the port, is it located inside the port.

And so the tap on the shoulder for the port authority may be more likely than for the terminal. But still, some ports may have zero incentive because the anchorage is far away from the port and they have sufficient space. So the pat on the shoulder for both the port authority and the terminal to have emission savings in international waters. Yeah, that pat on the shoulder is difficult to explain and would require much more attention than we have today.

Argyris: Thank you. And I mean, Andreas, when you look into it from a data perspective. I mean, we mentioned about the importance of the requested time of arrival and being revised. What else would you see there as important in order to achieve such kinds of benefits? And when you look at it from the incentives perspective how could we incentivise a terminal to be even more accurate if you like in the RTA or to be revisiting the RTA in relation to the position of the vessel several maybe even days away. How could this work?

Andreas: I think, first of all, we have to understand that, like, emission savings is something that can only be achieved by the triangulation port terminal and shipping. Like it doesn’t make any sense the shipping does the savings alone because they need the information from the port, they need the information from the terminals. So that understanding is very important. 

If you are looking at incentives I think also that, like, policymakers have to look into incentives on a broader scale. We all know that the IMO is including ports in their thinking since 2019, I think something like that, when they came with new suggestions on including the port in the legislative domain while IMO not specifically has something to say about ports, right?

But now the thinking is that it is already becoming part of shipping in order to achieve the carbon targets that they have set for 2050. The terminal is also the driving force in making it happen. So when you’re looking at incentives there must be some overarching understanding of how ports, terminals, like Ben said, can also benefit from incentives to make greenhouse gas emission reduction possible. We have to do it together.

And the other thing is that shipping alone is like we also have our challenges, right, and most of the challenges, is timeliness, right. We have most of the savings if we already know way ahead what is going to happen and can adjust the speed accordingly during the voyage or even in an ideal situation when the vessel departs.

And we see that the benefit of the savings is gradually reducing the closer the vessel is to the port. And that is also one of the things that we have to look into and we need the information as soon as possible and as reliable as possible. And one of the things that we also collectively need to work on is that we achieve a certain form of reliability of the data that we exchange.

Argyris: Andreas, thank you very much for that. Talking about reliability, the term of, you know, the overall standardisation question comes into my head. But if we can park it for a quick second, I would like to run the second poll with our audience today before we leave the topic of incentives, please.

And please look into the question on whether we need incentives and for which of these stakeholders? You can select more than one and add your comments into the Q&A box. You know, do we need to implement incentives and for which stakeholder? And there’s also an answer there for none of the above, so if you believe that incentives should not be put in place. Let’s hold that there for another 15 seconds, please. So you can select more than one answer and I look forward actually to what the audience thinks on the topic.

Okay, another five. Let us look into the results of the poll, please. Interesting, so the audience looks squarely in the eyes that, yes, terminals and port authorities would need incentives but shipping lines come right at the top. There would be benefits for shipping lines but at the same time, the audience believes that there ought to be incentives there too. I also see that shippers’ cargo owners come relatively high in the poll and that’s an interesting topic. I mean, Ed, how do you…thank you very much for the results. Ed, how do you perceive the audience’s view on the topic?

Edward: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense and it’s aligned with a lot of the work that we’ve done. We’ve been working with the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California looking at incentives programs there that are focused on NOx reductions. And how might we be able to tailor the incentives there? And this issue of collaboration between the vessels and the ports always comes up. And then how do we figure out the costs that would need to be borne out by industry for those kinds of technology-type investments.

And when we’re thinking about incentives I’ve been looking at cleaner, greener technologies, whether those would be alternative fuels, exhaust house cleaning systems, or nitrogen oxide after treatments, those come with technology costs to the vessels. And if we’re trying to, from a policy perspective, generate those kinds of benefits then the question of how do we structure the incentives becomes increasingly important. And there are a lot of different policy groups and government agencies that are interested in those problems. Because the ships, if they don’t have to engage with those types of technologies there are different levels with which the industry is willing to engage.

And so by tailoring the costs to the activity that’s there and the cost the industry will bear we can start to kind of drive these benefits through the industry yeah so, you know. The incentivising behavioural changes from an economic perspective become much more challenging because of kind of what is the counterfactual. 

How do we assess the baseline conditions versus the conditions that we’re looking to incentivise? From the technology and investment perspective incentives are fairly straightforward, but from a behavioural standpoint, things become much more nuanced.

Argyris: Great. Well, thank you very much for that comment. I mean, Ben looking at it from a European perspective before we just leave incentives there, are there any favourites? You had mentioned the tap on the shoulder. Are there any favorite taps on the shoulder for terminals and port operators that have been discussed?

Ben: Yeah, of course, for private bodies like terminals and money is always good, of course. However, environmental improvements have a lot of publicity. So I guess that for both the port and the terminal but particularly for the port as a public body, it would be good to have a sort of reference from respected organisations, for example, IMO or United Nations. Where there’s a sort of benchmark where good practices of ports and terminals are published. So that would already be one step forward without investing a lot of money to give an incentive to people in ports and terminals.

Argyris: Thank you.

Edward: If I may add something, Argyris. On the subject of incentives, it becomes increasingly important when we’re talking about costs rather than focusing on individual ports. If we can focus instead on groups of ports that have high interconnectivity between them then that enables those groups of ports to share the costs. 

And when we’re talking about investment costs and technology investment costs we can see that when we’re talking about groups and consortiums, that those costs really get driven down very, very quickly. Because those costs are shared across all of the calls that happen at a larger group of ports. So from an incentives perspective the more players that we have both in terms of ships and the ports and the port authorities, and the terminals that are engaged, the more benefits we’re able to see at a lower cost.

Argyris: Interesting and I think, you know, a component there is definitely data connectivity and data exchange so that people can be making coordinated decisions. Right, I mean, you know, that brings us to the topic of standardisation which we have touched upon in previous webinars so maybe we should speed through that. May I just ask Ben since you are leading a little bit the initiative not a little bit quite a lot of the initiative under the ISO for Port Nautical Standards, would you like to just say a word on where we stand for that before we proceed?

Ben: Yeah, in standardisation it wasn’t a shocking experience to, yeah, to define together if we want to share data. Are we talking about the same time definition, and are we also talking about the same location definition. So to give you an understanding when we started there was a definition of arrival time but not from departure time. So that’s how we all started. So we started that definition. And then the next step was really are we talking about arrival time at the port reporting place or are we talking about arrival time at the berth? And also that understanding was not there so then we added a location to the timestamp.

And next step was really if we’re talking about an estimated time of arrival which is based on the estimated speed of the ship versus the waiting point versus is it a planned arrival of the entire time of arrival that is based on the terminal planning and the port planning. So all those definitions were not there. The only thing we had was an estimated time of arrival not specifying a location and not specifying any terminal planning.

So we are coming from it was a very steep learning curve to get to a standard to talk about the same definition. Do we talk about as human beings can we talk about the same time and the same location? The next step was really if we can understand each other as human beings how can we transfer the data from computer to computer? Because also that standard how to format the data in such a way that we can connect computers that development was not even there.

So we said let’s use the definitions as found in the IMO Facilitation Committee. Let’s ask technical people together with operation people to create in technical standards to connect computers and that development was on the horizon. So then you have a robust body for defining definitions and have a robust body for defining technical standards to exchange data. So again both bodies need to be robust. Because yeah when we invest money as a port or as a terminal to exchange this data our investments must be based on robust standards otherwise our money is down the drain.

Argyris: Thank you, Ben, very well, very nicely said there. And, of course, you’re one of the prime experts globally on the topic, if the audience wishes to learn more please reach out to Ben, we would be happy to facilitate the connection on that. I should also say that, of course, Andreas is a part of this work representing Maersk.

Now, let’s move into a lighter topic, relevant, but also a little bit easier to talk about which is, you know, let’s focus on the topic on a new initiative that you’re running there at Rotterdam. And it relates to asking ships to define the, you know, to carefully correctly define the destination of the vessel in AIS. And I remember when we started discussing this topic, if I could show a quick, quick graph there.

You know, we realised that, for example, for vessels traveling towards Rotterdam more than 30% of them, you know, could not easily be identified as traveling to Rotterdam. Because the free text in the AIS destination box, you know, was not clear it was neither Rotterdam nor the UN/LOCODE of the port. 

And this created the, you know, this created some thinking and some initial, you know, and some process. Would you like to tell us a little bit more about that, Ben and, you know, what are you doing now on that topic?

Ben: Yeah, of course, this is not an issue that is specific for the port of Rotterdam it applies really to every port. And we do have guidance from the IMO on the use of AIS onboard which specifies that you have to complete your destination field. But how to complete the destination field that guidance is not available onboard. So mariners on board vendors from like Rotterdam or should that be November Lima Romeo Tango Mike or November Lima-Romeo Tango Mike. So everybody is trying to do the best they can however everybody does it differently, of course.

So it just makes sense that if you want to use data from existing solar equipment onboard ships in a smarter way then typing in the data in an unambiguous manner is already a big step forward. And not inventing anything new just using existing standards from again robust bodies like Unisys. Just use together, for example, the human low-code to specify the boat or use the SMDG Code to specify the terminal.

So we have an understanding of which port and to which terminal the ship is heading. And that would already allow us to make much more smarter connections to those ships where we have information for, you know, terminal planning has changed. Or to verify from history data what the approach looks like, etc.

Argyris: Okay, great. I mean, I remember Andres also we were looking into the destination declared by Maersk ships some time ago during whether that could be improved. I mean, does this resonate with you as well? We see here some benefits like safe navigation, more optimised journey going into the port. Does this make sense also from the shipping side?

Andreas: Yeah, absolutely, and like the other thing is that if vessels are going to adhere to the request and then indicate their destination field properly then you must like realise that this is also visible on the active system on your own ship, right because all the data that is transmitted by AIS is also visible on your own equipment. And like we have discussed also for Port of Rotterdam, they’re like quite a lot of vessels they don’t have a pilot on board.

So like our ships always have a pilot on board because, like, they don’t arrive in the Port of Rotterdam frequently enough to justify a pilot extension certificate for the captain. But that also gives more visibility and insight if there’s no pilot on board. That if you see it on the AIS and you see it on your active system you can already visualise some form of the direction the vessel is going.

So you take out the ambiguity of the vessels and the traffic that is surrounding you. And I think that’s a huge improvement in safety as well in the port environment. Like I believe there are studies that most of the accidents in shipping don’t happen in high seas but in port areas and approaches. So that is also already a big driver to get to this level that everybody knows where the vessel is going to.

Argyris: Okay that’s great. So and I guess we’re talking about here not just the UN/LOCODE of the port but maybe a port section or even better the terminal itself, right?

Andreas: Absolutely, yeah.

Argyris: Well, we look forward to that. I mean, definitely, you know, I can say from a marine traffic perspective, that we could, you know, seriously use the data in order to then offer additional forecasting on utilisation and congestion of terminals. 

Which would then in turn help to optimise the journey of the vessels going towards those terminals. So yes it’s a great initiative, and when is that campaign starting from the side of Rotterdam?

Ben: We are doing it step by step so we start very simply with a small group of ships that call at our port on a frequent basis and start with the port code first. And then we go to more and more detail when we go down this route. So it is really a very hands-on very pragmatic operation.

Argyris: Okay, makes sense and, you know, we look forward to supporting the initiative in pushing forward and, you know, advertising.

Andreas: Actually, if I just I may.

Argyris: Yes, please.

Andreas: Very quickly. I think like, I would fully support the initiative. I think also that there must be some guidance, right, where people on board they have to do a little bit of extra work but they have to understand why and see the benefits of it, right. That is one important step, guidance and purpose in order to embed it in the normal sequence.

And I think when we are talking about like port section terminal, I also firmly believe that it will assist seafarers also to complete their mandatory voyage passage planning from berth to berth. Because they are like, focused more on the berth where they are going to rather than the port they are going to. So in that sense, I think also that it will assist complying vessels complying to the IMO regulations and for safe passage planning.

Argyris: Andreas, thank you very much for this remark, really makes sense. And I said you know, we from our side will support the whole initiative through all sorts of dissemination active world. 

And we’re now at the Q&A stage, let’s look into questions that the audience has submitted to us throughout our discussion. There are I would simply need to apologise if your question will not be answered so let me start quickly, quickly. It says here just-in-time is a great solution in an optimal world but we do not live sadly in an optimal world. What control do you have over just-in-time 12 or 24? Who would like to take that one? Go for it, yeah, Ben, please?

Ben: Both the port and the terminal to privilege that place in the queue in a reliable fashion it must be transparent, but also allowing a sort of safety margin for the ship to arrive in port because again the ships may face a blackout. And not in the command situation when there is a failure in the main engine or whatever. And that margin, the safety margin to make very, very sure that you will always meet that slot in your terminal planning such as port planning. That shipping line that they absolutely can be sure that they do not lose their place in the queue.

So in that sense both the port and the terminal to privilege that place in the queue in a reliable fashion it must be transparent, but also allowing a sort of safety margin for the ship to arrive in port because again the ships may face blackouts. And not in the command situation when there is a failure in the main engine or whatever. And that margin, the safety margin to make very, very sure that you will always meet that slot in your terminal planning such as port planning that we also need to respect. So respecting the release of the needs of every partner in that process will be of great help apart from the incentives for everybody to go down this route.

Argyris: Thank you. Let’s continue with the additional questions. But, Andreas did you unmute yourself? Do you want to add something to that?

Andreas: I just want to add very briefly. I think also when we are looking at like just-in-time arrivals we have seen also from the presentation and what Ed explained is that there are some low-hanging fruits, right. And we all have like European legislation regarding emission reduction as well as the IMO legislation regarding emission reduction. So and on top of that, there is also our beneficial cargo owners or cargo owners for that matter that also have an interest in a green supply chain. Because they are demanded to operate in a green supply chain by their customers. So like everything comes together and it is kind of low-hanging fruit and it’s worthwhile to put all the efforts into making it achievable. And I repeat myself when I say it’s the triangulation of port terminals and shipping to combine that and do the best efforts to make it happen.

Argyris: Thank you and I’m sure that Ed has a lot to say on that on the previous question, but let me give you the next question there, Ed, which if I may which focuses on the analysis. It says, interesting that the rate of fuel consumption savings versus carbon dioxide savings is about three to one. Was this consistent across data points or is it the aggregate?

Edward: So it’s a great question and a very insightful one. The assumption for this was that vessels were all using low sulfur heavy fuel oil and so that 3.11, I think it is or maybe it’s 3.114, is the ratio of fuel oil consumption to carbon dioxide emissions associated with that. So that’s why that ratio exists there and how those two numbers kind of fit together.

Argyris: Okay, well, thank you very much. Let’s go back, I mean JIT is, you know, attracting lots of questions. The next question is about Just-In-Time planning for a round trip Europe-China loop, you know, overall 84-day Europe-China loop. So how can we approach just-in-time for such a loop? Would it be based upon the published liner services or rather I think the question is…I beg your pardon there.

The question is should we focus on the published liner services, or in a more price-sensitive commodity such as oil or oil products? I’m trying to figure it out. I think it was typed a little bit quickly as well. But let’s start, I mean, let’s focus on the container sector. 

How could we go about planning the loop because that’s what it is, yeah?

Andreas: I think I kind of understand the question and that means like shall we sell on the performer schedules or shall we just do the optimum speed of the vessel and see when we arrive in port? That is what I think is meant like my belief is that we should use the liner schedules because that is the product that our customers expect of us. But in order to achieve the best savings results in terms of emissions, like if you have a certain distance and you have a certain time then there is a certain speed that is required.

And that speed would then be the optimum speed if you maintain it across the ocean voyage. And that is also how we look at it like if you then go faster then you obviously arrive earlier and you have waste in the system, but if you are too late then you lose your slot and the planning gets hampered. So basically the outset shall be the line of schedules and then because that is something that is kind of fixed which allows for planning.

Argyris: Okay, thank you very much.

Edward: If I may, I think that my anticipation is that this will become as JIT proliferates an iterative process. Where while those liner schedules may be set as they currently are, as more and more vessels and ports engage in JIT practices, those liner schedules and the associated supply chains with those I anticipate that over time they will adjust in order to accommodate what may be a more optimal JIT type arrival.

Argyris: I think what you say there makes sense, Ed, thank you very much for that. The next question is about the just-in-time scenarios that we looked into and it simply says are these a what-if scenario or a real-life one? I mean, Ed, since you’re there why don’t you comment on that and maybe go to Ben as well.

Edward: The short answer is yes, there are a little bit of both. We took real-world data, observed AIS data, and we looked at the positions where the vessels were 12, 24 hours from their port of arrival. Or the entirety of the journey for the pilot board in place to pilot board in place. And then as Andreas was just discussing we adjusted the speed in order to minimise total fuel consumption over the entire voyage. So they’re a little bit of a what-if but they’re ground-truthed in observed voyages and observed positions and observed speeds of observed vessels. So it’s kind of a hybrid of those two.

Argyris: Thank you. Ben, is there something that you would like to add to this? The microphone.

Ben: I think again the report promises significant savings and I believe that. However to manage expectations in the beginning especially when we have to learn how to work together and also realise that especially in the beginning people tend to take more safety margins in the testing phase. Then again we will see savings but not as much as the report shows especially not in the beginning when you are still on the learning curve. So let’s be humble and let’s just start but don’t expect the world to change now.

Argyris: Excellent and on that one I mean, do we expect, you know, the IMO or EMSA to amend the regulations so as to include just-in-time as a procedure for implementation? Is one more question here.

Ben: Ports and terminals are today not regulated by IMO. They could already start by promoting just working on almost step-by-step guidance for ports and center supports how to do this. So that’s already a big step forward because it may sound strange but today is sero guidance for ports and terminals on how to work together with shipping. There’s no such thing as best practices or something that is sitting on the shelf of a terminal operator or a harbor vessel.

Argyris: Great thank you. Certainly a challenging question to close and thank you very much for having a go at it. I would like to thank all three of you for joining us Ed, Andreas, Ben, and our wonderful audience for sticking all the way and asking those great questions. The event is being recorded and will be published on YouTube together with the other two sessions that we had during the previous two weeks. And well, that closes the “Maritime Analytics Conference” for this season. Thank you very much, everybody. Take care, stay strong, stay safe, and until next time, be well. Bye-bye.

Andreas: Thank you very much. Bye-bye.