Beyond Weather Routing: How to Enhance Weather Data in Shipping
The focus with weather data, of course, starts with keeping the ship and the cargo safe. Ships are expensive and, without the right safety levels in place, the weather can be a risk to both crew and cargo.
This approach has evolved, over time, to encompass the concept of optimized weather routing. An optimized route comes down to crafting the route to meet the KPIs of a specific voyage. It could be a fixed ETA because if you’re late, you’re facing a claim; it could mean maintaining a particular sea state because you require specific conditions for the vessel or cargo.
Depending on your priorities, this could mean focusing on saving fuel. But it can go beyond this to also include time savings or keeping cargo safe. It comes down to what’s important to you on each route.
What are the emerging opportunities in shipping with weather data?
Historically, weather data focused on the start and end of a passage. But there’s a whole world of insight before, during, and after each voyage.
For example, with certain cargoes, you’ll need specific conditions for loading and discharging. If you are not utilizing weather information at these stages, you could be missing out on opportunities to improve efficiency.
Another hot topic now in the industry right now is optimum speed. It is essentially the ideal speed for a voyage, which is calculated based on the ship, fuel usage, and the growth of shells and seaweed on the hull to meet the ETA.
As well, laycan optimization is a growing trend. If you have a laycan period, which can be a couple of days, there are still different cost aspects within that laycan period. If the weather routing team has all that information, then they can optimize even within this period.
Connecting teams and data together
There are still many instances where companies work in silos, with individual teams having their own KPIs. There’s the onboard team on the vessel and the operations in the office. But they’re not necessarily working together. Providing everyone with the same information, at the same time, helps inform and improve decision making.
A joined-up approach improves real-time decision making, communication between teams, and confidence in decisions. All of this should result in performance improvements.
When operators explain their decisions to captains, the captain can also add their knowledge, and, together, they can act as a team to get the best result. And, by using all the information together, you get a better understanding of the vessel. This approach then means that you can determine which ship is the best one for a particular voyage or with a specific cargo.
You can also bring together a combination of hindcast and forecast data, to use this information during the voyage so you can make changes in running.
Enhancing weather data with expert seafaring knowledge
In shipping, accurate weather data is only part of the puzzle. You also need to know what to do with the information, which is why the routing services team is so talented. The team includes master mariners, who understand what a ship can handle and the performance levels a vessel should achieve. Their knowledge and skills enable the team to deliver premium route advice.
They are aware of the routes at sea, the obstacles, sea currents, straits controlled by pirates. Plus, they understand the processes onboard the bridge. So, for example, they know when it is feasible and practical to issue new routes, speed, or fuel guidance.
Want to find out more? We’re speaking at the VPO Forum on 22nd October. Come and meet us there! You can also watch our recent presentation at Nor Shipping 2019 on "How to optimise your vessel performance using latest data manipulation tools"