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Data standardisation could propel decarbonization

Shipping is missing a trick with its lack of data standardisation – and the biggest loser will be the planet, according to a paper from the Global Maritime Forum.

World trade today is more than 30 times greater than it was in 1950 and while there has been innovation in the transport itself, full decarbonisation is still a long way off.

The insight brief from the Global Maritime Forum’s Short Term Actions Taskforce points out that speed optimisation, capacity utilisation, and voyage optimisation can each provide between a 10%-24% increase in operational efficiency, yet this could be dramatically improved on if standardised environmental performance data were more accurate.

The authors refer to the business adage, ‘What gets measured gets managed’, describing this as “especially true for strategic transformations like reducing emissions, for which measurable success criteria are essential”.

While both the EU and IMO have mandatory schemes to collect data related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the shipping sector, outputs from the former are only published at an aggregated level, while outputs from the latter are “less transparent” and not sharing ships’ reported annual numbers in an attributable way, the paper said.

“Measuring success means to create transparency and an understanding of reality at scale. This in turn is only possible if data is collected, analysed and interpreted at scale,” it said. “Collecting data not only allows us to understand historic trends and slice-and-dice those into categories of interest, but it also unlocks predictive and prescriptive modelling with machine learning and AI. Such methodologies are critical to simulate future trends and apply mathematical optimisation to find the best business decisions to make that maximise success metrics.”

Obligation to opportunity

The GMF explained that standardising data to comply with regulation is “fairly straightforward”. The challenge, as it sees it, is to ensure that shipping companies transform these requirements from “an obligation into an opportunity”. It urges that shipowners and operators go much further with the data they already collect and create a new mindset that seeks out the value of that data, not only in terms of compliance but also in potential financial and environmental benefits.

“The first step needs to be making it possible to measure every vessel’s performance as frequently and accurately as possible,” it said. However, the industry first needs to overcome four hurdles: a lack of standardised data collection, lack of trust, perceived confidentiality of data, and a need for a multilateral approach.

“One of the reasons that operational inefficiencies persist in shipping is due to a lack of thorough measurement and up-to-date data and information related to vessel performance,” the paper said. While real-time sensors and flow meters are becoming increasingly common, there is no standard way of gathering data from vessels. Too much reliance is placed on vessel noon reports which are largely subjective and rely on human intervention.

This creates the risk of information gaps and creates a requirement for significant manual intervention to cleanse the data input,” the paper said.

Standard reports

To enable data standardisation, GMF suggests adoption of a standard holistic report from vessels which would enable widespread collaboration and future data sharing. “This must go beyond what is provided by noon reports today, and data sharing can even be written into contracts.” Doing this will not only help the party collecting the data but could also help charterparties on both sides if it is shared more transparently.

The industry could also make better use of optimisation software, continuous monitoring software and use of behavioural data. This last point suggests using data to target human behaviours that affect operational efficiencies to reduce fuel usage. This type of solution can, it is claimed, target and improve a range of behaviours, including trim and draft optimisation, speed optimisation, port turnaround time, autopilot improvement, and route optimisation. “At sea, crews are constantly making decisions with multiple priorities and endless factors and nuances to consider. Each of these decisions has enormous potential consequences for safety of life, pollution and massive amounts of fuel.

The paper pointed to a study undertaken as part of the Clean Maritime Call, a Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) initiative supported by the UK Department for Transport (DfT), which revealed that there is a clear difference in efficiency practices between individual captains and chief engineers, offering savings potential of at least 12% from behavioural changes alone.

In summary, the report said that there could be around 10% of latent performance improvements ready to be unlocked today through voyage optimisation. “Given this context, and as the industry becomes more data-centric in general, there is a requirement for reliable, useful, and complete data to enable these optimisations to take place. In short, the industry has matured and data needs to as well. As the sector moves to rapid decarbonisation, the industry needs the right data to enable this transition,” said the GMF.
Source: Baltic Exchange

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