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"Just-in-Time" a complicated issue for shipping

23 December 2021

Combining "Just-in-Time" arrival with slow steaming is the best measure to reduce fuel consumption and emissions in port areas. But first, some barriers must be removed. This according to a new pre-study carried out within the Swedish Transport Administration's industry program Sustainable Shipping, which Lighthouse runs.

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the single largest source of air pollution in Southern California. Together, they emit more smog- and particle-forming nitrogen oxides than the 6 million cars in the region do, and ship pollution is estimated to cause more than 1,300 deaths a year in Los Angeles. Right now it's supposed to be worse than ever. In November, record-breaking queues were reported outside the Port of Los Angeles - 83 ships were anchored and had to wait an average of 17 days to arrive in port.

In the port of Gothenburg the problem is not close to being as large, but the anchoring time when ships are waiting for laycan (the time frame within which the carrier according to a freight agreement has the right to dispose of the ship for loading and unloading) or on available quay is still a significant source to emissions. The Port of Gothenburg has therefore, together with researchers at IVL, the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers, conducted the pre-study BRAVE ECO (Benchmark for Reduction of Anchoring Vessels' Emissions - Enabling Change of Operation) and evaluated the possibilities to reduce air emissions from ships anchored in port areas.

“The study showed that it is mainly tankers that anchor in Gothenburg. Measures to reduce the anchoring time should therefore focus on that segment, says Fredrik Rauer, project manager at the Port of Gothenburg, who led the work on the pre-study.

The results also show that using time to slow steam have a much greater potential to reduce emissions than if the ships would only reduce the time at anchor (by using fewer ships to perform the same transport work). This is especially true for the initial speed reductions (10-14 knots).

"Just-in-Time" combined with reduced speed, slow steaming, is the most appropriate first measure to reduce fuel consumption and emissions in port areas.”

Fredrik Rauer describes "Just in time" (JIT) as a simple concept - it is all about adjusting the speed until the port is ready. In other logistics chains it has been introduced without major problems, but in shipping it is not as simple.

- Shipping is one of the oldest ways of transporting goods and there are deep traditions for how it should be conducted. Every transport is worth lot of money and many parties are involved. There are many different types of contracts related to ship transport. The question is who should start a change. As a port, for example, we regulate the queue order into the port, but we can not control that the ships slow down.

There are many barriers that need to be addressed, such as: lack of trust, improving information sharing (actors now communicate via phone or email), loss of income (due to demurrage), attitudes in the industry, the “first come, first serve” concept, risk of missing estimated time of arrival and port infrastructure. But despite the barriers, there is a will to change, says Fredrik Rauer.

“Different attempts are made. Several ports work in different ways with JIT. In Rotterdam, their digital platform shows the business case in JIT-Arrival. Tanger Med has tested JIT trips with container vessels. And in Gävle, it will be introduced that you have to answer a JIT request.”

So how long does it take before JIT gets a wide use?

“It is a difficult question, but I think we will see a transition to this within the next few years. Several things speak for themselves. On the one hand, there are clearer requirements for reduced emissions, and on the other hand, product owners are more interested than before, at the same time as standardization is beginning to be defined”, says Fredrik Rauer.

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