Plotting a voyage route is no longer just about speed of cargo delivery. Fuel consumption and emissions are now vital factors in route planning. And constantly shifting weather conditions are another key variable in the complex equation to calculate the optimal route.
But weather routing is currently a costly, and time-consuming process.
This typically involves email communication between a ship’s captain and a shore-based weather consultant, with multiple emails back and forth that may take hours or days. The consultant generates a suggested route in his own system that is then sent over as a data file to be entered into the vessel’s Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).
Routing advice is updated once a day based on noon reports from the captain and any route changes mid-voyage can trigger additional consultancy fees. Given the cost of such a weather routing service can be as high as $1000 per voyage, ship operators mainly use it only for long-haul transcontinental routes.
But what if it were possible to generate multiple route scenarios pre-fixture for all voyages of any distance - at a fraction of the cost - so that the ship owner or manager could determine the optimal route?
Orbit Weather+, powered by DTN--a leading data, analytics and technology company--is a potentially game-changing solution for weather-optimized routing as it can generate an unlimited number of route simulations, leveraging multiple weather APIs from DTN that are integrated into Orbit.
This integration enables instant ‘what if’ route scenarios to be generated at the touch of a button based on different parameters including bunker usage and cost, ETA, CO2 emissions, CII rating, EU fines and fees, and possible hazards to find the smartest, safest and most cost-effective route in accordance with real-time weather data.
This also offers opportunities to enhance revenue as it means the chartering team can select the most profitable routes and most appropriate vessel that can reach laycan in time so it can pursue the best contracts.
Furthermore, the effective cost per route is reduced significantly as the SaaS application is based on a subscription per vessel rather than price per route: End users can conduct unlimited simulations for no additional cost. This means weather routing can also be applied to short-haul routes to realize additional fuel savings.
Weather data is constantly updated in line with changing environmental conditions to provide automated routing advice based on artificial intelligence (AI). This serves as a staff multiplier as there is always an AI weather expert on the team to provide routing guidance.
Alerts generated by the system - for example, on excess bunker usage, safety issues or changes to ETA - enable the onshore operator to recommend to the captain an alternative course mid-route to optimize fuel consumption and minimize emissions.
The captain remains the final decision-maker on which route to follow and can also evaluate ‘what if’ scenarios during the voyage in dialogue with an onshore weather consultant and company stakeholders - such as the chartering team and bunker desk - with access to the interactive system.
Actionable insights from Orbit Weather+ enable better voyage decision-making to improve cost-efficiency and avoid difficult waters to ensure the safety of vessel and crew. This also has major decarbonization benefits as the ability to generate unlimited route scenarios means every voyage can be optimized to reduce emissions and thereby aid compliance with new CII rules.
In other words, navigating a sustainable course just got a whole lot easier.