Enablers and challenges to operational efficiency pilots

How can learnings from pilot voyages provide new learnings about operational efficiency and a better understanding of the barriers to uptake and hope to overcome them?

This paper explores this question as part of a series that examines the undervalued opportunity presented by operational efficiencies to reduce shipping emissions in the short term and pave the way for long-term decarbonisation solutions. The learnings presented here have emerged from a series of meetings and workshops gathering perspectives from experts across the maritime value chain—shipowners, operators, charterers, ports, and NGOs—as part of the Short Term Actions Taskforce. Other papers in the series provide an overview of the issue, and dive deeper into the identified solutions and enablers: the role of data, legal and contractual changes.

May 24 2023

While it is known that the decision-making processes for ship operations are complex, there remain large gaps in understanding of the importance of agency for energy efficiency. Running pilots can help the shipping industry to learn firsthand about the various frictions and obstacles that must be removed to capture the speed optimisation and operational efficiency opportunities.

Currently, the industry faces challenges to get beyond isolated examples of speed optimisation to scale up  from isolated pilots to fleet-level changes. For speed optimisation, collective action requires a mix of shipowners, charterers, and terminals to send a strong signal to both industry and regulators. There is thus an opportunity to start catalysing the broader structural changes needed to introduce speed optimisation at scale. Because drag decreases exponentially as the ship slows down, sailing 10 percent below a vessel’s rated speed can reduce fuel consumption by 25 percent. We know speed optimisation leads to significant gains on fuel savings, but this does not always translate to savings for all parties involved. The role of pilots is to create mechanisms with which a measure’s uptake can be scaled.

What we expected to learn when we started the process and how that evolved over time led to many insights on enablers and challenges. The overall goal of pilots is to demonstrate the commercial viability of speed optimisation. There can be many learning opportunities from pilots, including both quantitative (data driven) findings as well as qualitative learning. The aim of collecting quantitative data throughout the pilots is to verify and validate changes in fuel savings based on a “before-and-after” comparison of operational measures. Examples of these measures are hull cleaning, voyage and speed optimisation, just-in-time (JIT) or virtual arrival, etc. The aim of the qualitative part is to have a better understanding of the barriers/challenges  e.g. contractual implications, to learn about the frictions and obstacles that must be removed to capture speed optimisation so that these can be addressed.

Read the full insight brief here.

The views expressed in this Insight are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of the Global Maritime Forum. Excerpts may be published with reference to the Global Maritime Forum.

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