Smart Steaming & Logistics Optimization

Smart Steaming for Container Logistics

Smart steaming offers many potential benefits for the supply chain in terms of increased reliability and sustainability.

However it is important to make sure that port and hinterland logistics operations remain synchronised. Unpredictable berthing times for ships have a knock-on effect along the supply chain - freight forwarders are reluctant to make bookings for rail and barge transport unless they are sure the freight will be available.

The SYNCHRO-NET project has developed new artificial intelligence tools which more closely integrate shipping and hinterland operations, respecting the constraints and interests of all stakeholders in the supply chain to drive a collaborative win-win approach.

Port and Terminal Optimization

Smart Steaming involves setting the speed and course of container vessels to obtain the most efficient voyage based not only on the fuel costs and emissions produced but of the effects on the connecting nodes in the supply chain.

This gives freight forwarders and transport operators increased reliability and visibility which can in turn be passed on to their customers.

MJC²'s berth scheduling software dynamically allocates berths and arrival times to ships, and allows the user to assess the impact of different schedules on port and ship operations.

Integration with ship control and simulation software allows predicted fuel cost and emissions (CO2, NOX etc.) for each option to be determined.

The example below illustrates the smart steaming concept from the ship's perspective.

The first image shows the actual course taken by the ship. Due to a delay in the port which means the berth is not available, the ship makes a loop to "kill time".

The original un-optimized course taken by the ship.

The actual voyage of the ship

However, the delay in the port could in fact have been predicted from the berth and terminal scheduling software. In the "smart steaming" world, the ship would have been notified well in advance and a new berthing time agreed.

This allows the ship to go slower, which saves a significant amount of fuel - in this particular example the fuel usage for the voyage in question would have been around 30% less.

Simulation of the smart steaming voyage.

Simulation of the smart steaming voyage

Hinterland Logistics Planning

From the ship's perspective this is ideal. Once a berth has been allocated to a vessel a course can be set to arrive at the appropriate time. This reduces fuel use and wasted time waiting outside the port compared to sailing as fast as possible and reduces the risk of missing the berth if sailing at slow steaming speeds.

However, the hinterland logistics operation will of course be affected by changes to the ship's arrival time. In planning mode, the SYNCHRO-NET synchro-modal logistics optimization tools can be used to estimate the impact on connecting hinterland movements (e.g. number of delayed trucks, missed rail connections and resulting extra costs of moving shipments from rail to road in order to meet delivery deadlines).

In real-time mode, the synchro-modal logistics algorithms dynamically update the transport plan for onward container movements, advising the user as to the best multi-modal options, and automating the booking process when the ship berthing time is regarded as reliable.

Truck optimization algorithms find opportunities to reduce empty running and make best use of drivers' hours, while load balancing tools encourage staggering of pickup and delivery times at terminals to reduce queuing.



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