AWT unveils fleet decision support system

Nov 30 2013


Fleet optimisation services and on board voyage management software provider Applied Weather Technology (AWT) has introduced the latest version of its fleet management system - Fleet Decision Support System (FleetDSS) 2.0.

This updated version is now available for use within a company’s IT network and comes with new tools, including an ETA confidence tool and a comparative vessel type performance graph.

“At AWT, we are committed to meeting the diverse needs of all sectors of the shipping industry,” said Haydn Jones, AWT CEO. “With the launch of FleetDSS 2.0, we believe AWT has developed an invaluable tool that will help companies be more efficient in managing their fleets while minimising fuel consumption and improving safety.”

FleetDSS 2.0 includes high-resolution wind, wave and current data to provide operators with more detailed information. The latest version also includes specific information about swell conditions following customer feedback and combined with other parameters, provides detailed information on how ships will be affected by the weather and currents.

Version 2.0 is a network version, which means it can now be set up to collect the weather and route data at one central location and multiple users can access this data. For clients with many users, this will significantly reduce the amount of data being downloaded while providing quick access to the data they need.

 

Fleet efficiency

The ETA confidence tool analyses 20 model outputs to predict the likelihood that a ship will arrive at the projected time. Operators can use this tool to evaluate the confidence in a vessel’s ETA and the likelihood of the vessel having an earlier, or later, arrival in order to make more informed decisions.

In addition, FleetDSS 2.0 provides a graphical tool comparing performance across a group, or class, of ships to help shipmanagers monitor the efficiency of their fleets. Using this tool, operators can compare their ship’s performance with other ships of the same type. This helps operators more easily see if a ship is under-performing and may have an issue that needs to be addressed.

 

Charterers

With version 2.0, ship operators can easily assess how each vessel is performing compared to their specific charterparty terms, AWT claimed. Operators can access this data using the fleet performance report, or monitor vessels that are under-performing using the alert dashboard.

“The original version of FleetDSS was very useful for liner companies, but now with version 2.0, we have expanded the capabilities of FleetDSS to cover a wide spectrum of the market,” said Rich Brown, AWT’s vice president of products and systems. “In FleetDSS 2.0, the new tools allow ship operators to be more efficient and make better decisions.”

Simultaneously, AWT launched a voyage calculator program. This software is claimed to accurately calculate the distance, speed loss and corresponding cost of a voyage from one port to another, taking into account weather, ocean currents, hire rate and other factors, giving the user multiple options. For example, AWT has access to weather data from over 3,000 ports worldwide. ECA zones can also be taken into account by calculating the distance needed to travel through an ECA and the extra costs involved from taking on low sulphur fuel.

“Shipbrokers and charterers need voyage time and distance estimates to project costs, but simply using great circle distances can give unrealistic, or misleading predictions,” said AWT vice president operations George Schlinkert. “Voyage Calculator delivers more reliable information based on AWT’s experience routing thousands of vessels each month and our analysis of a decade’s worth of weather data. The improved precision can result in substantial savings, making Voyage Calculator an essential tool for anyone involved in commercial ship operations.”

It delivers a voyage cost estimate in terms of charter time and fuel consumption. In addition to the weather and ocean current information that yields expected speed loss via AWT’s proprietary Climatological Ship Resistance (CSR) model, Voyage Calculator can account for different fuels and rates of consumption, as necessary.

It can also factor in ECAs and piracy considerations, such as entering a War Risk and/or a High Risk Area (HRA), as it sets a route. Users can access the web-based program and set voyage parameters, the results of which can then be viewed through a fullcolour online map interface.

Jones told Tanker Operator that since becoming AWT’s CEO at the beginning of this year, he has conducted a strategic company review by looking in as an outsider.

He found that the drivers for change to the company’s weather routing offering were threefold.

First was the high bunker fuel cost, combined with continuing low charter rates almost across the board, coupled with the IMO’s focus on energy efficiency and the environment, which led to the stronger demand for fuel efficiency.

Looking at the wider picture, Jones found that there were around 20 parameters defined by the IMO and shipping companies for voyage planning and routing to add to the list of ship efficiency concerns.

Second was the mandatory introduction of ECDIS in 2018 to replace paper charts. Jones said that weather routing systems should be seamlessly integrated into a totally integrated navigation system.

Today, a navigator will have to manually monitor a weather routing system on the bridge in addition to viewing all the other navaids. He said that there should be a drive to integrate weather routing into a vessel’s voyage planning software tools.

Indeed, AWT is already proving its compatibility with Kelvin Hughes and ChartCo’s navaids software - Jones’ former employers. In addition, the company is working with UKHO’s e-Navigator system and with a leading bridge equipment supplier.

The third consideration was the rise of broadband and VSAT uptake, giving the opportunity for high density communications flow from shore to ship and also data from ship to shore. Hence the need to improve data reporting, resulting in FleetDSS, Jones explained. The old system of noon reporting was not an adequate solution in today’s move towards ships efficiency.

He said that the way ahead was for AWT to build collaborative agreements with other software suppliers on board ship to improve the data flow between the vessel and the shoreside office and develop the tools needed for the shared information in order to aid a vessel’s performance and gain greater operational efficiency.



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