Two steps closer to the optimal voyage

Before starting any voyage, the crew on the vessel prepare a voyage plan in Maersk’s ECO Voyage framework. They take wind, weather and current data into consideration in order to adjust speeds on certain stages and make the journey as efficient as possible following the constant power or dual speed philosophy. However this does not always guarantee the perfect voyage.

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In the course of the past year Maersk Maritime Technology has enhanced the existing performance systems with two tools that aim to make the voyage as efficient as possible.

In the course of the past year Maersk Maritime Technology has enhanced the existing performance systems with two tools that aim to make the voyage as efficient as possible.

A voyage, and the factors influencing a vessel’s performance on the voyage, can be broken down into a number of steps:

  1. Planning stage prior to the voyage
  2. Evaluate the actual voyage during operation. This is done in Eco Voyage Tracker.
  3. Analysis afterwards - How did the perfect vopyage look? This is done in the Voyage Breakdown tool.
  4. Reported data is used to calibrate the ship model used within the entire vessel performance framework (VPMS).
  5. KPI process – performance evaluation of a vessel and its crew. Key Performance Indicators are for instance fuel efficiency and safety.
  6. Feedback loop to learn from the operation, i.e. what can be done differently before starting the next voyage, e.g. the vessel ready for hull cleaning etc.?

The latest enhancements developed by MMT, i.e. the Eco Voayge Tracker and the Eco Voyage Tool, have integrated all stages of a voyage into Maersk’s Vessel Performance Management System. This means that there now is a framework to measure performance in a structured manner. There is a direct link to how the vessel and its crew are evaluated and a feedback loop has been created as the last step to learn from actual experience in operation.

The EcoVoyage frame work has been developed from a stage where the different products did not "talk" to each other and is now a 100 % integrated software suite allowing operational decisions to be taken with short notice

Jesper Dietz from the Hydrodynamics & Performance Analytics team in Maersk Maritime Technology is the project manager for these upgrades and has been driving the new developments from the start.

It is exciting to be able to shape such an important process and to contribute to improving efficiency and saving fuel. We constantly strive for the perfect voyage we are now getting closer and closer to reaching this goal. I am fascinated by the fact that there now is a form of intelligence behind our efforts to carry out the optimal voyage. Just by looking at wind, waves and current, we can determine whether it will be necessary to slow down, speed up or even sail a longer route to make the voyage as fuel efficient as possible.
Jesper Dietz, Senior Vessel Performance Analyst, Hydrodynamics & Performance Analytics, MMT

Eco Voyage Tracker

As crucial it is to learn with hindsight, it would often be better to be able to adjust mistakes while they are about to happen. This mind set was what drove the development of the Eco Voyage Tracker allowing the Maersk Line Global Voyage Centre in Mumbai to go in see where the vessels are. They compare the ongoing voyage with the original plan made prior to the journey. In case of discrepancies, they can advise adjustments and agree with the Captain on changes in for example in speed, trim, draft and timing. All journeys over 48 hours are being monitored and can be adjusted in order to constantly optimise fuel consumption. A new version of this system was released in autumn 2014 and new developments for all three products are already planned.

At Maersk Line Global Voyage Centre, ECO Voyage is seen as a valuable tool to keep track of their vessels, analyse vessel speed and energy management. They even require their vessels to use Eco Voyage mandatorily for voyages of more than 48 hours in order to conduct an optimum and fuel efficient voyage.

Voyage Breakdown Tool

This is a tool that (as the name says) breaks down the voyage into stages and analyses these stages post-voyage. By comparing the simulated voyage based on ship data from the Maersk Ship Performance System (MSPS) with the actual voyage, it becomes clear on which stages the vessel’s fuel consumption was particularly high or low.

This gives a basis for an analysis of what the reason for this was and whether the journey could have been carried out differently. The optimal voyage profile is calculated using a ship model reflecting the actual condition of the vessel and using measured data from the vessel. Hereafter it is compared to the executed voyage. The voyage simulation provides information on not only the optimal speed profile, but also on the optimal voyage strategy, such as dual speed or constant power, information on the expected fuel and energy management.

By comparing the simulated voyage with measurements from the executed voyage, the Voyage Efficiency Index (VEI) indicating how efficient the voyage was performed can be calculated. This is part of the vessel KPIs.

The Voyage Breakdown Tool thus enables to evaluate and learn once the journey is completed following the principle of learning from mistakes.

Further upgrades of ECO Voyage and the Voyage Breakdown Tool are already underway and will be implemented throughout 2015 and 2016.