To optimize their routes, forward-thinking charterers, owners, and vessel managers use modern weather routing methods. Rather than automatically taking the shortest route, they opt for the best one because they understand that the shortest distance between two ports isn’t always the fastest or most fuel-efficient.
How weather routing works
Weather routing is crucial to helping ships avoid adverse weather conditions. It also ensures each voyage operates at peak performance. From pre-voyage planning to compliance and beyond, weather routing supports sustainable, cost-effective shipping — and can help you reduce your fuel consumption.
Many variables make it difficult to compare two or more voyages. However, the choice of route can make a massive difference to your profitability. For example, when masters are passing Skagerrak on their way to the U.S. East Coast, they will typically ask for advice on the next part of their route. They can either pass just above the British Isles or sail through the English Channel. In theory, a master can knock 35 hours off the journey if they don’t go through the English Channel, but the weather can be worse on the alternate route, eliminating the time-savings. The best route will vary depending on conditions, which is why accurate weather data is essential.
The risks of inaccurate weather routing on fuel consumption
The goal is not to avoid all adverse weather but rather to find the right balance. It’s about minimizing transit times and fuel consumption without placing the crew and vessel at risk. Operational cost savings are increased by reducing transit times, fuel consumption, and cargo and hull damage.
For example, vessels not taking advantage of dynamic speed routing to increase efficiencies can end up navigating around bad weather rather than simply slowing down or speeding up to avoid it. This approach increases the distance traveled, fuel used, and, inevitably, emissions.
Inaccurate weather routing can result in:
- Unoptimized routes
- Unnecessary fuel consumption
- Increased emissions
- Inability to meet voyage KPIs
- Added costs and delays
Optimal weather routing is the art and science of developing the best route for a vessel based on its characteristics, cargo requirements, and current weather forecasts.
Want to learn more about managing your fuel consumption with weather routing? Download our white paper: How to Reduce Fuel Consumption with Weather Routing.