Just in Time Arrival, the smart thing to do

CO2 reductionJust in time arrival
September 17, 2020

“Dangerous climate change needs to be avoided by limiting global warming to well below 2° C”

So it states in the first-ever legally binding global climate change agreement – the Paris Agreement – that was signed by close to 190 parties. This is a great ambition, but it is not an easy one. It will require companies to change the way they work and individuals to change the way they live. Everybody needs to contribute to making it happen, including the shipping industry. 

Accounting for 2.89% of all global greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, shipping has a significant role to play in meeting the climate goals. 

Many different things can be done to establish emission reductions, such as: 

  1. Changing engines on vessels
  2. Changing hull designs
  3. Changing vessel sizes
  4. Or even reduce the volumes of goods transported by sea

None of these items can be called low hanging fruits. They all require significant investments. What if I tell you there is a low hanging fruit? 

Just in Time Arrival is the smart thing to do

Just in Time arrival changes the way vessels approach ports. Currently, vessels sail for an established Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) that the terminal has provided to them. Once the ETA has been communicated to the vessel, not much further communication takes place about its arrival time. However, calling a port with a vessel is a very dynamic process. Things change all the time. The weather, tide, traffic, availability of tug boats and pilots, all these elements can lead to changes of plans on the vessel or terminal side. And if plans change, it is key to communicate the new plans swiftly. 

By making sure that the ETA gets updated and communicated regularly between the terminal and vessel, the vessel can adjust its sailing speed to the latest ETA and thereby avoid waiting time at the port. If a vessel has to wait, it has to either manoeuvre or anchor, which generates unnecessarily high emissions in approaching the port too fast and unnecessary emissions whilst waiting to enter the port. These emissions can be avoided just by improving communication. 

Just think about when you travel by airplane, what would happen if the arrival slot changes to 30 minutes later? Would the pilot change its speed, or would he continue on the same speed the whole journey, having to circle above the airport for 30 minutes before he can start his landing?

Just in Time Arrival is the smart thing to do for the shipping industry, making an impact without any major investments. It is also strongly supported by the IMO. All we need to do to start Just in Time Arrival is share planning and actual information to align operations in the port.   

It sounds simple, what is holding us back?

There are a few obstacles holding the shipping industry back from avoiding these unnecessary emissions:

  • Contracts may not allow for Just in Time Arrivals or even incentivize early arrivals. 
  • Transparency of data is something new in the industry. Sharing planning and actual operation information may lead to commercial and/or operational discussions.
  • To do this, the different parties working together in a port call need to collaborate in digitalizing their operations. This requires collaboration in a way that never happened before in the history of shipping, including (technical) communication standards.

Who should drive this? 

Terminals, port authorities, service providers, shipping lines, agents, and everyone involved in the port call process need to be part of the process to drive Just in Time Arrival. Any missing link will lead to missing key information, which results in a lower impact. In other words: Just in Time Arrival needs to be driven by the industry. 

The problem is: like with anything that has shared responsibility, you run the risk nobody takes ownership. 

With PortXchange, we’ve launched a neutral platform created together with key players from the shipping industry. The platform is available for all ports and all trades, and the implementation is driven by – what we call – a coalition of the willing in every port, consisting of a group of organizations involved in the port call process. Shipping lines like to drive this change, as Just in Time Arrival, in addition to lower emissions, leads to lower bunker consumption and better communication resulting in safer port calls. Also, Port Authorities often take a leading role in this considering this part of their digital infrastructure leading to emission reduction and safer operation. The implementation of a digital platform enabling Just in Time Arrival goes hand in hand with a change in process to make sure the right impact is being made. 

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About the author

Dita
Dita Bruijn
Director of Operations at PortXchange

Dita has 12+ in the maritime shipping industry. She applies her extensive experience in operational excellence and digitalization to drive innovation and make port calls efficient and greener.