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How efficient is your fleet planning and scheduling?

September 29, 2021
Arto Viitanen

The cornerstones of an efficient fleet schedule on high level are: 

  1. Plan your COA cargoes and fixed spot cargoes in the most cost efficient way for your fleet
  2. Identify and bid for the spot cargoes that best fit your current schedule plan and price the bids accordingly
  3. Relet the least profitable cargoes to better positioned shipowners

Today I’ll be focusing on the 1st point. What are all the things to consider when planning your fleet schedule:

  • What’s the best way to bundle cargoes into voyages? Should you use smaller vessels to carry single cargoes, or combine them into multi-port voyages on a bigger vessel?  
  • Is the vessel’s hold/deck/tank capacities/segregation appropriate? 
  • What’s the best positioned vessel for a voyage?
  • What are the previous cargoes? Any restrictions, delays or costs deriving from previous cargoes?
  • How long will the sea passage take, and what will be the bunker consumption/cost?
  • What’s the most efficient vessel speed to plan in each situation? 
  • How much do port or channel costs vary between vessels?
  • What are the vessels listed in a COA contract? Which vessels can be used for a particular COA cargo?
  • Are there any Paris MOU,  flag or ice class restrictions?
  • How long will loading take for a particular vessel, cargo and port combination? How well are the booms, cranes or pumps aligned for a given vessel at a given port? 
  • What is the condition of the vessel’s mooring and cargo operating gear?
  • Are there any draft limitations along the route or in port?
  • And most importantly, how does all this compare if you had a different vessel and cargo combination?

Mapping out all this in your head or in a spreadsheet, is labour heavy to say the least. Doing voyage estimations one by one in a voyage management system and then summing them up for the entire schedule plan is possible, but gets crazy if you want to create and compare more than just one scenario. This is hard enough for single cargo voyages, but explodes in complexity when considering multi-parcel and multi-port voyages. Avoiding inefficient decisions is virtually impossible.

How Seaber can help?

This is really the core problem that Seaber is set out to solve. On our planning timeline, all of the above issues are highlighted and can hence be avoided. One of the key values that we bring is the automatic cost estimation that considers bunker, port and channel costs and then sums them up per scenario.  Our ‘suggest voyage’ feature takes all the costs, durations and restrictions into account, and proposes the most profitable next voyages to plan. Scenario optimization tools on the other hand can propose changes to the scenario to increase its profitability. This could mean a bigger vessel carrying two cargoes instead of two smaller vessels carrying one order each, or simply switching a cargo from one vessel to another to make space for a shorter voyage in between two scheduled voyages. The planner is, however, always in the driver’s seat and makes the final decision for each voyage. 

We also support automatically updating the vessel schedules according to the latest ETA/ETD, so your schedule stays up to date, and you can react to ever changing conditions quickly and effectively.

How is this done at your company currently?

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