Voyage planning and route optimization are complex. Balancing safety, efficiency, and costs is a challenge faced by shipping companies worldwide. Add port rotation, ETAs, and speed ranges into the equation, and the whole process can quickly become more complicated.
As a shipmaster, fleet operator, or planner, you bear considerable responsibility for crew safety, revenues, and costs. You don’t take your responsibilities lightly, and you know that sound weather-routing decisions are essential to your efforts. But what exactly does this look like in practice? Here are four characteristics to look for in your weather routing solution.
1. It should support and unburden captains
Weather conditions, including wind, waves, and currents, change as a voyage progresses. As a result, routes must be recalculated and reoptimized throughout the voyage.
To help, ship captains need a reliable, accurate decision-support tool that increases decision-making confidence and supports the execution phase.
2. It can calculate optimized routes based on your KPIs
Today, weather routing is not only crucial for avoiding adverse weather conditions, it also ensures each ship runs at peak performance. From pre-voyage planning to compliance and beyond, weather routing supports sustainable, cost-effective operations.
Sailing the shortest distance between two ports isn’t always the fastest or most efficient route. Modern weather routing solutions allow you to optimize your routes based on the voyage’s KPIs. Whether it is to manage fuel consumption, reduce costs, or meet your ETAs and other charter-party conditions, a modern weather routing solution can help.
3. It communicates with onshore teams and provides reports
A lot can change after a vessel leaves port. While the most efficient route can be planned, the optimal route changes with the weather. That’s why onshore teams need detailed weather information. It helps them pre-plan routes before a voyage, adapt them during the passage, and analyze post-voyage results.
Adverse weather alerts let you know if conditions are changing along your planned route. This insight allows you to plot an alternative route — before the voyage’s performance or crew’s safety suffers.
Fully-configurable ship-to-shore reporting eliminates duplication and redundant work. It also ensures that all routes, communications, and performance indicators are available for onshore stakeholders, while integrations provide a shared view across fleets.
4. It is supported by industry experts
All of this is accurate weather data is not enough. It should be strengthened by maritime expertise.
Forecasts should start with numerical weather prediction model data that passes a complex, in-house post-processing procedure. Combining the knowledge of nautical meteorologists and ex-seafarers means complexities — such as currents, straits controlled by pirates, and common obstacles — can be taken into account in the routing advice.
Whether you’re planning a voyage or making rapid routing adjustments as weather patterns change, you need a weather routing solution that meets this criteria.
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