How Shell has reduced idle time on departure by optimizing port calls

Shell, Loodswezen and Vopak

Challenge: A lack of transparency in port operations

A baseline measurement determined that vessels wait an average of 210 minutes at the Shell Europoort Terminal in Rotterdam after completing cargo operations before departing at the terminal. This metric can be significantly reduced if all the parties involved in a port call have a better overview of each other’s planning.

Vessel operators find it difficult to get a clear picture of what’s going on in the local port and/or terminal. Time, emissions, money, and fuel are all wasted due to a lack of timely updates, poor data quality, and ambiguity.

 To make smarter choices to save money, change plans, and save time, you need to know what’s going on at each step of the port call. You can’t improve decision-making until the actual operation and financial process are transparent.

Transparency has become a critical success factor in the shipping industry. New technologies can provide the operational control needed to make the best decisions possible at the appropriate moment.

With this in mind, Shell Europoort Terminal, Loodswezen local pilots, and Vopak agency collaborated using  PortXchange Synchronizer.

Solution: A data-sharing platform to improve port calls

 PortXchange Synchronizer is based on IMO standards and offers shipping companies, agents, service providers, and operators a joint platform for the exchange of port call-related information. The application allows all users to optimally plan, execute and monitor activities throughout the entire port call. This yields concrete benefits for all parties involved.

During the implementation, our digital collaboration platform has highlighted planning discrepancies between the agent and terminal, enabling everyone to easily focus on the vessels with possible planning issues. It provides an overview of all calls within the selected timeframe, including departed, at berth, and expected vessels. 

To improve port calls it is important to address planning issues. The system sends out notifications with updates as well as warnings of potential conflicts that are predicted before they occur. These alerts are filtered to arrive at the appropriate times to allow for action. 

All the information gathered in the platform by the participants is useful to provide a high level of visibility to improve each operation and reduce delays. Given the ship’s position and the status of other activities,

Result: Reduced Idle Time on departure

By using Synchronizer, Shell is one of the parties that experienced significant improvements in the port call planning process. The idle time on the departure of Shell’s vessels was reduced by 20%. The information shared in the platform improved efficiency and decreased costs for all the participants.

Ed Barsingerhorn (GM Shipping & Maritime, Europe & Africa) from Shell: “The pilot convinced us of the added value of PortXchange Synchronizer. We have reduced the waiting time up to 20% for departing ships. It is essential that all parties involved in the process, including terminal and agent, work closely together and share relevant data. When we exchange timestamp data not only in Rotterdam but also between ports, the improvement potential increases significantly. Ships can sail optimally laden and arrive just-in-time through better planning.”

Synchronizer platform provides ship operators with a unique view of ports and vessels, allowing them to better plan their voyages and optimize their calls. As a result, a high degree of visibility assists in making key decisions and better visibility into the overall port call process.
Since the trial in 2018, Shell is using the Synchronizer platform across different terminals in different geographies and across different business units internally. 

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About the case

The lack of transparency around the port call planning resulted in productivity loss and high idle time on departure.


PortXchange provided all parties with a shared platform to exchange information about their planning in real-time. Everyone had common situational awareness and had a complete overview of a port call.
The idle time on departure was decreased by 20% (from 210 to 168 minutes). At the same time, vessels, terminals, and agents improved efficiency and reduced costs.

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