Tipco Asphalt keeps it simple with integrated navigation

4 min read
28 Oct 2021
Tipco Asphalt

Removing complexity from navigational planning, ship-to-shore coordination and fleet management have been among the clearest advantages of using Wärtsilä Voyage’s Fleet Optimisation Solution across one of Thailand’s biggest tanker fleets. 

When Thai asphalt producer Tipco Asphalt has to move its product, it relies on its in-house marine division, comprising a fleet of nine asphalt tankers that deliver as far afield as Australia, North America and Africa. Keeping track of those diverse trades and making sure the fleet is safe and on schedule can be challenging. Which is why, for Martin Brzuska, Managing Director of Tipco Marine Group, Wärtsilä Voyage’s Fleet Optimisation Solution (FOS) occupies a special place in his day. 

First thing in the morning, I check FOS on my phone to see where my ships are and what they are doing.

- Martin Brzuska, Managing Director of Tipco Marine Group

That daily prominence highlights both the importance of FOS to fleet managers – with real-time visibility of vessel positions and recent alarms – and the system’s ease of access, available across devices from desktop PCs to tablets and smartphones. And the system is equally valued by other users, says Mr Brzuska.  

“In the office, the marine managers are responsible for monitoring the system all day,” he explains. “They look at all the alarms, navigation warnings and so on coming from all the different parts of the world our vessels are trading in.” 

The nature of Tipco’s trading patterns means that ECDIS alarms for shallow and congested waters are common; but it is still important to check them. Mr Brzuska explains that the fleet consists of relatively small vessels. Because they are designed to reach customers in less accessible locations, they do not face the same constraints as bigger vessels in these waters. Nevertheless, instant communication between shore staff and the ship within FOS can quickly confirm whether everything is alright onboard. 

For Tipco Asphalt’s ship crew, ease of use is the critical factor. The clear touchscreen user interface designed by Wärtsilä means that all navigation crew find the system so intuitive that they can operate it simply, regardless of their native language.

Image source: Tipco Asphalt

Tipco’s ship captains have also reported that they are happy with FOS. Simplicity, again, was the main factor. From a trouble-free installation and initial uploading of charts and overlays, to the ability to quickly create passage plans and to optimise them weather-wise, it is important for a ship’s master that processes are simple and effective. FOS ticks all these boxes, says Mr Brzuska. 

Today, Tipco uses FOS for navigation only. But the system can do much more. Fleet performance management module harnesses extensive data derived from navigation systems and combines them with equipment monitoring and external data sources to deliver comprehensive optimization insights. Alongside the other modules deployed, FOS Solution can help ship operators with the assessment of hull performance to reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs, therefore minimizing emissions.  

Tipco Asphalt is well aware of the value of deploying cutting-edge technologies and integrating digital systems. An extensive renewal programme over the next two years will bring state-of-the-art vessel performance and monitoring capabilities to the fleet. 

By 2023, two crude, product and bitumen carriers under construction in China will enter service. The vessels are future facing in every way: LNG-fuelled, fully automated and with an integrated ship management system that will connect navigational data from FOS with operational data from across the ship. At the same time, some of Tipco’s older, smaller vessels – mainly river trading bitumen carriers – will be replaced with newbuilds designed to increase carrying capacity but at similar draft. 

The whole shipping world is looking to digitalisation to reduce their footprint. We are doing the same. Meanwhile this first step with FOS has been very transparent, very intuitive and very user friendly.

- Martin Brzuska, Managing Director of Tipco Marine Group

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