Container ships could reduce emissions through just-in-time arrivals


Published June 7, 2022 18:05 by

The Maritime Executive







Shipping companies have increasingly recognized the benefits of voyage optimization for fuel savings and cost control, but a new report from an IMO-sponsored low-carbon public-private partnership highlights the immediate benefits of cutting carbon emissions through what they call “just in time”. Arrivals.” By focusing on even a relatively small number of voyages, they emphasize that the shipping industry could see immediate results in reducing carbon emissions as work on future technologies and alternative fuels progresses.


Just-in-time arrivals allow ships to optimize speed during their voyage to arrive in port when berth, fairway and nautical services are available. It represents a mindset shift for the industry, as many experts point out that captains are judged on their ability to arrive on time, which often results in them driving fast to ensure on-time or early arrival. However, as fuel costs have risen, shipping lines have increasingly implemented voyage optimization programs, and even ports, such as those on the US Pacific Coast, have asked container ships to optimize their voyages to address the backlog of ships waiting outside ports and the resulting reduce emissions.


“In the fight against climate change, global shipping has a steep climb to climb and we must pull out all the stops to deliver in line with the Paris Agreement,” said Captain Andreas M. van der Wurff, Port Optimization Manager at AP Moller – Maersk and Chair of the Low Carbon GIA Ship-Port Interface workstream, which sponsored the research. “The study underscores that while we are working to accelerate and scale the availability of future green fuels, significant emissions reductions can be achieved in the short term by bringing ships, terminals and ports together to share standardized data and facilitate just-in-time arrivals. “


The study shows that container ships can reduce fuel consumption and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions per voyage by up to 14 percent through JIT arrivals. The results show that while optimizing speed over the entire duration of a voyage offers the greatest savings opportunity, there are also benefits (5.9 percent) when a ship optimizes speed over a 24-hour period, or even benefits ( 4.2 percent) when achieved over a 12-hour period. “This indicates that implementing JIT in the last 12 hours of a voyage can already contribute significantly to fuel and emissions savings,” the report concludes.


The analysis also shows that 50 percent of potential fuel savings could be realized by focusing on a comparatively small subset of trips (8.5 percent for total trips, 6.5 percent for the last 24 hours, and 3.2 percent for the last 12 hours). According to the study’s authors, these trips are “potential candidates for first movers” in the approach that offers the opportunity for industry to achieve immediate emissions reductions.


“The results of this study demonstrate that operational changes in industry practices to effectively implement JIT can result in significant fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions savings,” the report concludes.


The research was conducted by MarineTraffic and Energy and Environmental Research Associates using AIS data from 339,390 container ship voyages in 2019. They calculated that the ships consumed 43.97 million tons of fuel and tested applying the optimization techniques to those voyages. The scenarios dealt with overall trip optimization from controller station to controller station as well as just-in-time arrival for the last 24 or 12 hours of the trip before reaching the controller station. Fuel savings ranged from 1.8 million to 6.2 million tons, while resulting CO2 emission reductions ranged from 5.8 million to 19.4 million tons.


They conclude that the study shows the potential to achieve significant savings by implementing the optimization strategies. However, realizing these savings requires collaboration between shipping companies, ports and terminals to optimize voyages and properly implement JIT arrivals.


While it is clear that the sooner a ship can take steps to optimize speed, the greater the potential fuel economy savings, they also call for additional research to help implement the approach. They also recommend further studies on the proportion of trips that target the small percentage of trips with the potential for the greatest reduction in emissions.


That complete study is available online from IMO.





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