Automated Fixed Route Scheduling for Sea Routes

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June 22, 2023




Automated Fixed Route Scheduling for Sea Routes

Ocean shipping is a major transportation mode for international trade. For a shipping company, the daily operating costs of a ship can be thousands of dollars. Proper routing and scheduling are expected to significantly improve the economic performance of a fleet of ships. Operators in the shipping and logistics industries tend to have a variety of tools at their disposal to provide their companies with the competitive edge they need to flourish in an increasingly regulated and competitive environment. To further improve scheduling along fixed routes, automated scheduling using complex computer programmes is starting to replace traditional manual planning. The sections below highlight some of the benefits of implementing automated fixed route scheduling during the planning phase of a logistics program, along with some examples.

Why is Automated Fixed Route Scheduling Important?

Reduced Expenses: Every ocean transport operator faces a significant challenge from high fuel and vessel maintenance costs. Several factors contribute to this cost burden, including waiting outside ports due to delays in loading and unloading of other vessels, increased fuel burn due to bad weather or unfavourable currents, deviations away from the predefined travel routes, and increased vessel wear and tear on longer-than-necessary routes. Automated route optimisation aids companies in overcoming these difficulties. Automating the creation of effective routes and schedules is possible with route planning software. The operator can make minor adjustments before the vessel departs after the software algorithm has generated an optimised route solution.

Effective Resource Use: Having an effective route plan allows optimised allocation of resources and eliminates inefficiencies.
Increased Business Productivity: Numerous daily tasks need to be completed by shipping companies bringing challenges with it. Software for precise route optimisation aids in overcoming these difficulties, allowing more deliveries in a shorter timescale.
Increased Safety: Safety always comes first in shipping, considering the severe financial, material, and human repercussions of a maritime accident. The risk is reduced because the safest path is taken.

Innovations in Automated Fixed Route Scheduling for Sea Routes

Singapore-based Voyager Worldwide has developed software that adopts an integrated port-to-port function. A schedule along a fixed route is automatically generated, which can then be refined to meet specific orders and other voyage requirements. Users of this software can tailor the view available in the software by switching e-Navigation layers on or off to refine route decisions. They can access ADMIRALTY Information Overlay (AIO), ADMIRALTY Digital Publications (ADP), ADMIRALTY e-Nautical Publications (AENP), Navarea Warnings, MARPOL areas, port data, and maritime security from a single screen.

Users can view Voyager’s routing and scheduling recommendations either on a map or in a list format. Users can easily add or remove navigational waypoints to effectively simplify and manage navigational compliance.To prevent compliance issues and reduce the likelihood of vessel detentions, the system automatically downloads Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs), publication updates, and Notices to Mariners (NtMs) on a weekly basis. Searoutes API, headquartered in France, provides automated and optimised shipping schedules based on fixed routes, according to the parameters of the shipping vessel.

Optimizing Vessel Routing for Improved Efficiency and Performance

During the initial planning, we take specific considerations into account to tailor the developed schedule to each vessel. Factors such as the vessel’s draft, beam, and length, which impact route planning, receive careful consideration.

The software can calculate the shortest and safest route based on user inputs, accommodating vessels ranging from small (5000 dwt) to large-scale container ships (200,000 dwt). It ensures efficient and secure navigation for a wide range of vessel sizes. The dimensions and mass of the vessel will impact the distance calculation, ultimately affecting the shipping cost.

The Searoutes API enables accurate distance calculations and automated scheduling for fixed routes by considering various parameters. The Searoutes API takes into account parameters such as the port of departure, port of arrival, vessel particulars, draft, areas to avoid, speed, and departure time to estimate ETA accurately. Consequently, it enables reliable route planning and scheduling in maritime operations. Additionally, Marine Digital’s software optimizes vessel routing on fixed routes, thereby reducing transit times and improving fuel economy.

Optimized Routes and Accurate Forecasts for Efficient Operations.

The software utilizes machine learning to construct routes that consider varying degrees of economy, speed, safety, and comfort. This approach optimizes the routes based on specific criteria to achieve the desired balance between these factors. It also considers the unique characteristics of the vessel, such as mass and dimensions, to achieve this optimization.

Marine Digital programs gather and process data on the vessel’s condition and surroundings, allowing operators to make more accurate forecasts. This enables them to account for the environmental impact on the vessel and create optimal routes and schedules at sea. Marine Digital developed four vessel solutions catering to charters, shipowners, and fleet managers, tailored to different vessel types. Includes weather routing, real-time vessel monitoring, predictive maintenance, and fuel consumption reduction for improved efficiency and sustainability.

Advanced Route Planning and Optimization Solutions for Maritime Operations

France-based Sinay Maritime Data Solutions has developed a Route Planning Module that enables the automated planning of maritime schedules for fixed routes.

The automated route and schedule planning and optimisation software use Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to construct optimised schedules and routes in real-time, allowing significant fuel savings and reduced shipping times. This automated navigation system also improves safety and prevents damage whilst minimising layover times at ports and reducing bottlenecks during busy loading and unloading of vessels.
SevenCs, located in Germany, has developed an auto-routing and scheduling software for safe, berth-to-berth voyage planning and voyage optimisation for fixed routes. SevenCs seamlessly integrates a range of software components and databases into the auto-routing application, enabling automated planning and routing of vessel voyages and operations. The application components include Chartserver, which can display ENCs and other nautical chart data using OGC–compliant standard Web Map Server (WMS). The map display is simple to incorporate into desktop programmes or web-based applications that run in a browser. The Route Checker component provides safety checks for the route in accordance with the IMO ECDIS performance standard with the Route Network Database application considering all routing measures for efficient route planning. The CIO+ Database add-on, in addition to automatically incorporating supplemental databases for environmental measures into the voyage plan, also includes information from T&P Notices to Mariners.

The Future of Automated Fixed Route Scheduling for Sea Routes

Nautic Expo estimates that the global market for maritime freight transportation will be in the range of US$205 billion by 2023. To achieve this market size, the sector (including logistics, ports, and shipping) will likely see a proliferation of AI technologies and machine learning, leading to improvements in automated scheduling along fixed routes.
It is difficult to ignore the potential of AI in achieving optimised route planning along fixed routes since the integration of AI and machine learning will result in reduced costs, lower risks, improved forecasting, and reduced delivery times. Furthermore, the use of intelligent data mining to power dynamic scheduling along fixed routes will be revolutionary. It promises to immediately impact expenses and sea transportation, minimising unproductive routes and increasing customer satisfaction in parallel. However, we expect to realize its greatest positive influence extending well beyond the near term, as we create significantly more flexible, adaptive, and context-specific services.


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