Wärtsilä Fleet Optimisation Solution in use

Expert advice: 7 benefits of data in improving vessel performance

Are you looking for ways to improve vessel performance? These seven expert tips will show you how data-driven decision making can help.

If you’re looking to improve vessel performance, you’ve probably already thought about how data could help you plan more efficient routes and optimise your ship’s engines. What you may not know are some of the other ways data-driven decision making can improve vessel performance – these seven inspiring tips show you how.

Ship owners and operators are increasingly finding that data is the key to improved vessel performance. Whether it’s using data to optimise engine performance or to find optimal routes, data-driven decision making saves you money and improves the efficiency of your assets. Data is also becoming easier to access and analyse, opening up new possibilities to use it to its full potential.

When you’re interested in using data to improve your vessel’s performance, these seven tips will show you what you could achieve.


Tip 1: Use data to ensure compliance

Regulations like the International Maritime Organization’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) make it mandatory for ship operators to monitor and incrementally improve their vessel’s environmental performance. You can use data to monitor and forecast emissions based on vessel, equipment, and route information. 

Your benefit – You can make better decisions that will reduce the cost of complying with CII and other regulations.


Tip 2: Help all your stakeholders see what’s going on

While data visibility is often needed for compliance, there are other benefits too. Data platforms bring multiple sources of information together for the most accurate representation of the facts in any given situation, whether that’s emissions monitoring, performance monitoring, or weather data.

Providing clear visibility for multiple stakeholders also increases trust and accountability. Whether reporting emissions, evidencing charter-party compliance, or ensuring best practices are followed on board, the ability to see relevant data in real-time both on the vessel and on shore is a significant benefit. Transparency will also become more important over time as the demand for robust and quick-reacting logistics grows.

Your benefit – You can increase your situational awareness, build trust, and improve your reporting capabilities.


Tip 3: Use data to increase operational flexibility

No two days are ever the same at sea. The changing world that we live in – including regulatory compliance, sanctions and frequently fluctuating fuel costs – demands decision-making that can keep pace. In shipping, priorities can change from one moment to the next, whether it is reaching the next port quickly, boosting your CII rating or optimising your route to avoid bad weather. Unlike with manual processes, data remains responsive to change – so you can act quickly and change course when your priorities change, while maintaining optimal vessel performance. 

Your benefit – You can react more quickly to shifting priorities without impacting vessel performance.


Tip 4: Track your fleet over time

The ability to track iterative change gives you the ultimate learning tool. Data provides a detailed historical record that can help evaluate the impact of any changes on how your fleet or individual vessels are operated. Whether you’re aiming to cut fuel consumption, navigate more safely or maximise fleet utilisation, data can help you review and evaluate the impact of your decisions, helping you to achieve your targets.

For example, maybe you want to assess fuel performance over time and identify where there are opportunities for improvement, or perhaps you want to see which of your vessels are most suited to clean technologies based on their performance over the last year. Data can show you the way.

Your benefit – You can learn from the past and more easily identify opportunities for improvement.


Tip 5: Be part of improving shipping for the future

Machine learning means that many of today’s analytics tools are self-improving, with feedback loops that help them get better over time. The more data available, the better solutions become at identifying, validating and analysing relevant information. Data systems not only assist decision making, they also continuously improve their ability to offer decision-making support.

Your benefit – You can use data to help you make better decisions.


Tip 6: Use data to access a wider range of expertise

Today’s software algorithms make recommendations that can then be analysed and interpreted, blending software insights with human expertise. The transparency introduced by having shared data and connectivity can help you access a wide range of knowledge and expertise when trying to optimise your operations and improve vessel performance. This can include support and advice from project managers, analysts, technology innovators and subject matter experts – all contributing to your data-driven decisions and augmenting their own decisions with data insights.

Your benefit – You can access knowledge and expertise to help optimise your operations and improve vessel performance.


Tip 7: Optimise your investment strategy

To stay competitive, you need to find every means possible to minimise waste and maximise efficiency. Data-enabled decision-making holds the key to finding cost savings and optimising every voyage, helping you to improve efficiency. These cost savings also free up money to invest in energy-saving devices that will further improve vessel performance. 

Your benefit – You can more easily find new ways to cut costs and further improve efficiency, freeing up capital to invest in energy-saving solutions.


How do I put these tips into practice?

With new regulations like the IMO’s CII requiring ship operators to monitor vessel performance more effectively, modern vessels are being built with data handling in mind and the hardware already in place for connected systems. But given the long life of ships, there are still plenty of vessels sailing that are not very well set up for life in the digital age. 

The good news is that hardware-light and software-only solutions are now available that can help you to gather and analyse data from older vessels too, giving everyone the opportunity to improve vessel performance. 

For example, Wärtsilä’s Fleet Optimisation Solution (FOS) makes it easy for you to follow the seven tips above, improving vessel performance in a variety of ways, including:

  • fuel optimisation
  • equipment condition
  • voyage routing
  • emissions compliance
  • navigational safety

The solution is built around software services and application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be easily installed on any vessel.

FOS can tap into one or multiple vessel systems, usually starting with the mandatory Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) used on every ship’s bridge. This functionality opens up a wide scope of optimisation possibilities because it allows your vessel data to be combined with external information sources. A single solution that can use all vessel data and combine it with external information is a critical tool for decision-making support. And because FOS is built around software not hardware, the results are achievable with a relatively low investment.


Benefits that will only increase over time

A holistic approach to data-driven decision-making brings greater advantages than isolated optimisation efforts. As time goes on, the insights offered by data management systems will likely become increasingly automated. This will further reduce the time and resources needed to make decisions. There is also the potential for high-frequency data collection, amassed and driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). Such data collection will enable even more detailed insights. For example, data will be able to tell you when it makes the best business sense to clean your vessel’s hull.

To take another example, analysis of fuel consumption and speed can be combined with input from navigational systems to identify other variables. These can then be balanced against the fuel penalty of not cleaning the hull, the vessel itinerary and the cost and availability of cleaning facilities. Likewise, IOT-generated insights can aid in the analysis of engine performance, which can help to optimise usage and predict when maintenance is needed.


Bonus tip:

When your goal is to improve vessel performance, the most important tip of all is not to look at specific areas for optimisation. Instead, take a holistic view that encompasses all the data generated by your bridge and engine room. It is this data that will show you your shortest route to optimised vessel performance.

Are you ready to unlock improved vessel performance? Find out more about fleet optimisation and how it can improve the performance of your vessel.

Written by
Amanda Thurman

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