Ideas for Improving Stowage Planning System with an Eye to Cost Reduction
1. As ships get larger, stowage planning reduces cost
The development and globalization of industry in all corners of the world has pioneered new sea routes, thus increasing cargo volume and international trade. In step with this, the development of shipbuilding technology has gotten ships large, thus resulting in several hundred million tons of cargo being transported through the sea. As far as maritime logistics is concerned, a lot of containers are used with a view to safety for cargo, efficiency in uploading and downloading, and cost reduction. And the cost paid by shipping companies varies greatly according to how containers are loaded.
One should consider how to place frozen or dangerous cargo, and one should further check cargo placement considering different ports of arrival and ship stability as affected by cargo weight. If stowage plan goes amiss, it may incur additional uploading and downloading, fines for regulatory violation, and/or loss from damage to cargo and/or ship. Thus, creating a stowage plan constitutes a very important factor that decides transport costs for shipping companies.
In the past when ships were small and there was not a great cargo volume, it was possible for people to consider all factors and manually create a plan, but coming into the era that builds 20,000-TEU vessels, it has become extremely difficult for people to draw up a flawless plan while taking everything into account. This is the reason why shipping companies need solutions with various features to create an optimized stowage plan. What requires special attention in adopting a stowage planning system is whether a solution realizes client/server database, instead of standalone which executes programs and saves related data in a user PC only.
2. Vulnerabilities of Standalone Stowage Planning
All shipping companies experience fundamental limitations in using standalone products. Each PC gets exponentially increasing stowage plan files and it becomes difficult to guarantee the sameness of the stowage plan shared among PCs, while creators experience the inconvenience of manually delivering their stowage plans to related staff. And this process repeats as a stowage plan is modified.
Besides, if there is any change to the code that is used by a shipping company or IMDG Code that has to be renewed every 2 or 3 years, it must be delivered to all users each time. Problems discovered in a system in operation leads to the same situation. Users must reinstall the program or download a patch for update.
The same is true of analyzing cargo tendency, extracting statistical data, and creating various types of reports. For this, a user must manage and keep a separate version of data for the stowage plan, in whatever form. If the requested type of data changes, one must change and rewrite the standard for extracting data.
|Share with other planners||Manual||Real-time|
|System Code renewal/update||Individually||Everyone at once|
|System Interface||File based,
3. Why database is necessary for stowage planning system
The biggest reason you have to check the availability of a database is that it could promote work process improvement for shipping companies, which have relied on central storage devices to use the existing products. Adopting a system that stores data in a central storage device means that a large number of users can share the specific data in real time and that one can extract new integrated work-supporting data based on the saved data. Further, it has the advantages of efficient data management, excellent security, and easy linkage with other systems. Especially as the system can use data in real time such as ship operating schedule and CBF (Container Booking Forecast) through linkage with the main system of each shipping company, it provides a variety of functions deriving from it.
Moreover, when change of data such as IMDG and system code or problems discovered with the system require an update, it can automatically modify all users’ systems in a single orchestration.
Hanjin Shipping’s adoption of a stowage system
Now, let’s take a look at the case of Hanjin Shipping, which has carried out work process improvement by introducing a database-style stowage planning system. Hanjin Shipping is one of the world’s top 10 shipping companies, which leads the marine trade industry all the while providing logistics services to some 60 countries of the world.
Focusing on addressing the problems and overcoming the limitations of its previously used standalone stowage planning system, Hanjin Shipping introduced OPUS Stowage from CyberLogitec. By acquiring OPUS Stowage, the company came to conduct its operations while having its head office and regional offices share database-supported stowage data in a single view.
As a result, it became possible to handle tasks while checking situation in real time wherever a worker is with PC, thus eliminating time wasted in data sharing or management. Now, if the system runs into a problem, a user is able to apply latest system, latest code, and latest IMDG Code by just restarting the system. Also, a user is now able to create various forms of reports with just one click based on the data saved in the central database, and work convenience has increased as functions operating in sync with the main system reduce user’s mistakes and what used to be manually done has been automated.
Equipped with database, OPUS Stowage has been adopted by a number of shipping companies including Hanjin Shipping for the same reason, which have been able to eliminate unnecessary work processes by replacing the previously used standalone systems.