TECHNOLOGY AND EFFICIENCY March 2020 The hunt for data: from Formula 1 cars to vessels By Mette Kronholm Frænde, Communications Manager and Editor at BIMCO Every second, across the world, up to 500 carefully selected datapoints from Shell’s managed vessels are transmitted Can an LNG or tanker vessel operate as efficiently as a Ferrari Formula 1 racing car or an aeroplane? Shell’s Grahaeme Henderson believes they can. Studying the world of Formula 1 and the airline industry, Shell now records and analyses hundreds of datapoints per second per vessel and follows their every move in real time in a bid to manage every molecule as efficiently as possible. Every second, across the world, up to 500 carefully selected datapoints from Shell’s managed vessels are transmitted to the group’s data visualisation centre in London. On large screens, staff follow and analyse every voyage. The point is not to snoop around. Shell’s vessels are no longer simply floating assets. They have become data machines. And the data they transmit allows remote staff to calculate and change a ship’s route to take advantage of currents and wind, cutting fuel consumption and travel time, just like the airlines. It allows them to optimise engine configurations to control emissions and boil off gas, tracking emissions daily, weekly and monthly. In fact, at any given time. Anchorage should not be necessary Shell Shipping & Maritime’s digitalisation journey began in 2011 when Grahaeme Henderson, Vice- President, Shipping & Maritime, initiated a renewed focus on technology, innovation and efficiency. Henderson turned to Formula 1 Ferrari cars and the airline industry for inspiration, asking why the shipping industry could not be run as efficiently. Henderson had long discussions with Ferrari to understand how its whole system worked and what its key Artificial Intelligence (AI) learnings were. He also visited and studied a number of airlines and airports. “When you land a plane, it is very efficient. The plane comes to the gate, all of the services come around it, the bridge is there, the people get off, the bags are unloaded, the food arrives. To be fair – with the vast number of planes they operate – the airports are extremely efficient,” Henderson says. But, he says, in the main, this is not how ports are operated. While the container business and cruise liners have come a long way because they work in a similar way to airlines, it all falls apart when it comes to tankers. Dr Grahaeme Henderson, Vice President, Shipping & Maritime, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited “Ships spend a large proportion of time in port. Inefficiencies and wasted time can have a significant financial impact. Anchorage should not be necessary; we should not have to wait,” says Henderson. He believes one major hurdle is that operations in the shipping industry very much happen step by step and one at a time, as opposed to happening in parallel as it does for airlines and Formula 1 cars. One of the main aims of Shell’s data gathering is to boost AI and machine learning, improving predictability of when each ship will arrive, allowing all activities to be planned around that. Shell’s vessels are no longer simply floating assets – they have become data machines Anchorage should not be necessary; we should not have to wait Photo (top): iStock / vm “The pilot will come on board at 09:00, the tugs will come up at 10:00, the mooring boat at 10:30, the rubbish offloaded, and immigration services done. All these activities could have more defined times, connecting everyone’s systems, so that we don’t have to guesstimate any more,” says Henderson. Shipping: in a good position to take the next leap Henderson says that, in some ways, the shipping industry’s journey of change will be easier than the one already travelled by other industries such as the airline industry, which is challenged by people and luggage. “We deal with cargo; cargo does not speak, it does not go wandering off like passengers do in an airport and it does not bring its own individual luggage to the airport and on board. This gave me the encouragement that – maybe – this was not going to be quite as difficult to overcome as I might have thought,” he says. “An aircraft’s whole route is calculated by computer, which may tell me that I will land at 15:06. Honestly, you can take off from Singapore or from Houston, and it tells you that the plane will land at 15:06. And then it lands at 15:06. Is that not absolutely amazing? That is how we want to get our ships running, and we are starting to do that.” “Since 2011, we have made significant efficiency gains with the introduction of technologies such as port call optimisation software, which has cut waiting times by around 20%, weather routing, and the analysis of 500 datapoints a second collected from our managed vessels, which helps us improve operational performance.” Connecting all actors is key Shell is responsible for 2,000 floating objects and its fleet loads or discharges cargo somewhere in the world every five minutes. AI can already predict how its ships will behave in different weathers and with different loads, and eventually – even before the ship sets sail – will predict how much fuel she is likely to consume each day, her speed, where she should be, and be able to challenge any deviation from that. For efficiency to take the next leap, every actor must work together, Henderson says – from vessels to ports. “Expanding this through the whole supply chain, where you connect every actor in the port through one single source of data around the vessels’ movement, is the aim. This way, everyone knows – from the bunker provider to the tugs and from management to port agents – exactly where the vessel is, when it is going to arrive and when it is going to depart,” says Henderson. “Where, in years gone by, the maritime sector was made up of a bunch of assets around the world, often operating independently, it is now all becoming much more coordinated, exactly as has happened with the airlines and Formula 1 cars. I honestly find that a really exciting place to be.” Connect with BIMCO Facebook Twitter Linkedin YouTube Dr Grahaeme Henderson’s career with Shell includes over 20 years working overseas on assignments in Brunei, Nigeria, Syria and The Netherlands. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Oceans, an Adjunct Professor for Southampton University and holds a PhD in mathematics of sea waves.