Four Ways Optimized Weather Routing Provides a Competitive Advantage

Booming consumer freight rates driven by increased demand have opened up new container shipping opportunities. However, container shortages and changes in freight flow are creating complications. Further, the tanker spot market experienced a 16% decrease in activity year-on-year in 2020 due to the pandemic.

As teams mobilize to respond, it’s never been more challenging to get from point A to B while controlling fuel costs and upholding safety and regulatory commitments. But there are approaches you can adopt to grow your competitive advantage.

Studies show the shipping industry can reduce emissions by up to 55% through fuel consumption reduction measures. Specific techniques, such as reducing speeds and using weather routing can cut emissions by 17-34% and 1-4%, respectively, saving up to €280 per ton on fuel.

Optimized weather routing can help you overcome the biggest hurdles. It allows you to plan optimal routes for every voyage based on your unique KPIs. It brings together weather forecasts, sea conditions, and your ships’ characteristics and cargo (both on and below deck) to calculate the most efficient and effective routes.

To highlight the competitive benefits of optimized weather routing, here are four specific ways it can help your organization.

  1. Cost savings through reduced fuel consumption
    Did you know optimal weather routing can offer fuel savings of between 2-5%, depending on vessel type, the season, and the conditions? Operational savings also come from reduced transit times, fuel consumption, and damage to cargo or the hull.Also, weather routing, whether onboard or onshore, ensures that the benefits of reduced fuel consumption and cost savings do not compromise your efficiencies. By taking your voyage KPIs into consideration, the optimal route means you can reduce fuel consumption without missing ETAs, breaking charter party agreements, or impacting safety.
  1. Operational efficiencies from improved route planning
    Accurate weather data and technological advancements provide captains with more onboard data than ever before. The variable speed algorithm, for example, means they can speed up or slow down to avoid adverse weather conditions. Other tools, such as voyage trim optimization, specifically help reduce fuel consumption and increase fleet utilization.Adverse weather alerts let you know if conditions are changing along your planned route. This insight allows you to plot an alternative route — before your crew’s safety or your vessel’s performance is compromised.
  1. Decreased environmental impacts through reduced fuel emissions
    Studies show techniques like speed reduction and weather routing can help reduce emissions by up to 55% through measures to reduce fuel consumption. Specific techniques, like speed reduction and weather routing, can ease emissions. However, there are limitations to speed reductions because time is always a key consideration in shipping. However, complete knowledge of its circumstances can allow a vessel’s captain to slow down when necessary. For example, if adverse weather at a terminal means it cannot handle the cargo, relaying this information to the captain allows him/her to reduce speed. Otherwise, the vessel must wait outside of the port until the weather improves. The same applies if the lay days and the canceling clause in a charter party allow.
  1. Greater safey and accident prevention through accurate forecasts
    Seakeeping supports optimal route planning by considering a vessel’s dimensions, draft, and loading conditions. In extreme weather it’s obvious you cannot maintain the same route; it’s too dangerous. But how about when they are close to the edge? It makes decisions more difficult because avoiding all adverse weather conditions can add costs and result in ships arriving late to port. Confidence in your weather forecasts helps you make the right call at the right time.Forecast accuracy and trust in your provider are critical. The more accurate a weather forecast is, the more confident you are in making the tough calls. It’s only through this accuracy that you can also realize the other benefits in this list.


Do you want to learn more — including how other shipping companies use weather routing to gain a competitive advantage?

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