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Container operation in port

Charterers score in the game of Required Time of Arrival (RTA)


May 20, 2019

Managing and hedging risk, while keeping an eye on cost, is what the chartering game is all about. A strategic aspect of this business is how the Required Time of Arrival is “played.”

In one year, container ships spend 4.6% of their time anchored due to early arrival at port, which according to vessel tracking specialist MarineTraffic, equates to about 15 days. For a charter operator with a number ships coming into ports, this is a significant amount of time.

There are many commercial implications to this waiting period, including lost business from missing opportunities to carry other cargo and over-consumption due to excessive speed. Waiting ships also lead to a lower availability of vessels, which causes an increase in charter prices when looking at shipping as a global business.

Ships waiting at port

Ships waiting at port in Istanbul

Besides being bad for business, ships waiting outside ports harm the environment and the communities nearby. Studies carried out by the IMO GloMEEP Global Industry Alliance (GIA) have shown that reducing waiting time outside ports could significantly decrease harmful ship emissions.

Avoiding early arrival at ports is just one of many reasons why charterers, concerned about their bottom line and obligations to the environment, use the combination of NaviPlanner BVS on board, together with shore-based Route Advisory Service (RAS).

Owners fit their vessels with NaviPlanner BVS to ensure ships are underway for the least time and use the least fuel. When this is combined with a shore-based RAS service, the optimum route for the passage and an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA)—based on what is most convenient for the Charterer—is provided.

While safety of the crew, vessel and cargo is the primary reason driving charterers to use these products and services, the commercial implications of an efficient voyage also carry weight. Optimal commercial management of a vessel is why charterers are in business. StormGeo specializes in the calculation of an ETA, allowing for the forecasted effects of the weather, sea and current conditions. This ETA is what our clients rely upon to gain confidence in each vessel’s ability to make the RTA.

As part of the RAS service, charterers receive an analysis of the vessel’s performance at the end of each passage, in relation to the charter party warranty, including a calculation of the time underway and bunkers consumed. This data is collected and organized in StormGeo’s Fleet Decision Support System (FleetDSS). This system allows the user to quickly review the latest overall capability of each vessel in their fleet or dive deep into all available data gathered over a number of voyages to determine things like current vessel performance, performance over the past 18 months, performance with a specific captain on board, or performance after dry dock or alterations to the hull. Overall, FleetDSS provides an unrivaled overview of vessel and fleet performance that can be customized to fit the requirements of each individual company.

With all products on a single platform communicating with FleetDSS onshore, using the same data and the same map graphics, you have one company to relate to; one company with which to discuss any concerns that can occur during shipping operations.

When considering ETA, it’s important for charterers to match arrival time with what is most convenient for them. Because these products and services are integrated, charterers are able to make an informed decision to get to port at the desired time, weighing the cost benefits between being delayed and saving fuel. They are also advised if the RTA or schedule integrity is at risk.

If the market isn’t strong, charterers will want to save fuel and arrive as late in their arrival window as possible. If the market is rising rapidly, they may want to get in and out of port quickly. Port congestion also influences decisions related to the arrival time. It’s very important for charterers to manage the RTA in the most informed way possible.

While weather is by far the most important variable for RTA, local time of day, day of the week, and local holidays are also important considerations. Overlooking details like this can have major implications for charterers. This is why NaviPlanner BVS and FleetDSS pay special attention to this information.

But what really makes these systems stand out is the connectivity between them, which is unique for the ship routing sector.

Unlike other ship routing products and services, StormGeo’s operate from a single platform. They are made with each other in mind—enabling the onboard product to work seamlessly with that onshore. This single solution concept improves cyber security while avoiding a reliance on independent products from different companies that have not been made with compatibility in mind.

With all products on a single platform communicating with FleetDSS onshore, using the same data and the same map graphics, you have one company to relate to; one company with which to discuss any concerns that can occur during shipping operations. This compatibility also allows all upgrades to be made far more efficiently.

StormGeo’s recent acquisition of DNV GL’s fleet performance solution, ECO Insight and Navigator Insight, has greatly enhanced the quality of the data produced by these products and services. This gives us technical and analytical data that no other company in the ship routing sector has access to. And by getting better data from the ships, the charterer has greater control. Nearly all decisions are determined by the quality of the data coming from the vessel. This is where StormGeo clients are able to get even further ahead of their competitors by enabling their fleets to achieve their required arrival times.

Commercial considerations are the most important and often the most overlooked. Proactive commercial decisions need fresh, quality information that is actionable because, as any charterer knows, arriving too early is a waste of time and fuel and arriving too late can be catastrophic for business.