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McKinsey & Company: How to transform your shipping company

Digital tools can help to identify trends, optimise crewing spend and the overall procurement envelope, and streamline repair, maintenance, port, drydocking, and bunkering costs.




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Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company on Thursday (1 December) published an article on how digitalisation can help the shipping industry cope with uncertainties and help streamline bunkering costs. The following are excerpts from the article:

Players in most shipping subsectors have enjoyed a profitable couple of years. However, the industry faces a complex, rapidly changing environment. Macro uncertainties—the threat of recession, geopolitical volatility, crew shortages, escalation of operational costs, and fluctuations in cargo demand—affect all aspects of operations. In addition, there is increased environmental regulation to get to grips with, and much uncertainty around decarbonisation pathways.

Crucially, the shipping industry lags behind in digitisation, a key enabler for prompt decision making, operational and cost efficiencies, and improved performance. This article introduces a transformation framework to help shipping companies navigate these choppy waters. In particular, it explores how data and analytics can be leveraged to gain competitive advantage and unlock value.

Cost optimisation

Cost-optimisation levers can be enabled by collecting and analysing data and building digital applications to inform decision making. Digital tools can help to identify trends, optimise crewing spend and the overall procurement envelope (spares, stores, provisions), and streamline repair, maintenance, port, drydocking, and bunkering costs.

Client experience has shown that various levers can improve cost performance in specific areas of shipping:

Crewing: Shipowners could leverage analytical tools to identify the right talent, improve ship-to-shore communications, and revamp safety- and quality-assurance procedures. Data tools could aid in optimising factors such as crew remuneration, number of crew onboard, nationality mix, medical claims and welfare, travel scheduling, training, and recruiting.

Procurement: A spend-intelligence dashboard could provide real-time insights and transparency. Further, digital tools could standardise the procurement process, define supplier-specific strategy, consolidate purchases, and reduce unplanned spend.

Shipping companies that rely on manual processes often struggle to track their expenditure by supplier, location, or even product or service type. This can cause a lack of comprehensive planning of purchases such as spare parts. Suppliers cannot be selected in a systematic way, and companies miss out on volume discounts and delivery-pool savings. They may also incur higher operating expenses with emergency procurement and repairs.

Such companies could invest in technology that provides digital dashboards. Here, real-time insights and analysis across key metrics can be accessed easily. Spend details can be sorted by type, category or organisation, and details made instantly available by clicking on a specific deep-dive area (Exhibit 5).

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Dry docking: Digital solutions are now available to optimise dry-docking processes and ensure full transparency. These can help to standardise processes, gain greater negotiation power with suppliers, optimise timing and location, pool vessels to benefit from scale and synergies, and increase the vendor pool.

Bunkering: Digital techniques can be used to implement vessel upgrades, find optimal bunkering locations, obtain better bunkering bids, execute hedging strategy, and review vendor contracts.

Consumption can be reduced with optimised vessel execution and performance-management mechanisms. For example, one shipping operator was looking to optimise varying fuel consumption. However, fuel and emission data were lacking. There was also a lack of transparency about captains’ voyage decisions, and no comparisons of their performance. The solution was the installation of a new data interface between vessels and central IT. This created transparency around key levers, such as speed, slip, trim, and fuel type, and leveraged automatic identification systems (AIS) and weather data for route mapping and fuel-type usage. A dashboard was developed to report key metrics to fleet operations and captains (Exhibit 6).

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Note: The full article titled “How to transform your shipping company” can be found here

Photo credit: Chris Pagan on Unsplash / McKinsey & Company
Published: 3 January, 2022

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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding receives orders for Japan’s first methanol-fuelled RoRo cargo ship duo

Two ships will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with scheduled completion and delivery by the end of fiscal 2027.





Mitsubishi Shipbuilding receives orders for Japan's first methanol-fuelled RoRo cargo ship duo

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, on Wednesday (19 June) said it has received orders from Toyofuji Shipping and Fukuju Shipping for Japan's first methanol-fueled roll-on/roll-off (RORO) cargo ships. 

The two ships will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI's Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with scheduled completion and delivery by the end of fiscal 2027.

The ships will be approximately 169.9 meters in overall length and 30.2 meters in breadth, with 15,750 gross tonnage, and loading capacity for around 2,300 passenger vehicles.

A windscreen at the bow and a vertical stem are used to reduce propulsion resistance, while fuel efficiency is improved by employing MHI's proprietary energy-saving system technology combing high-efficiency propellers and high-performance rudders with reduced resistance. 

The main engine is a high-performance dual-fuel engine that can use both methanol and A heavy fuel oil, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 10% compared to ships with the same hull and powered by fuel oil, contributing to a reduced environmental impact. 

In the future, the use of green methanol(2) may lead to further reduction in CO2 emissions, including throughout the lifecycle of the fuel. Methanol-fueled RORO ships have already entered into service as ocean-going vessels around the world, but this is the first construction of coastal vessels for service in Japan.

In addition, the significant increase in vehicle loading capacity and transport capacity per voyage compared to conventional vessels will provide greater leeway in the ship allocation schedule, securing more holiday and rest time for the crew, thereby contributing to working style reforms.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, to address the growing needs from the modal shift in marine transport against the backdrop of CO2 reductions in land transportation, labor shortages, and working style reforms, will continue to work with its business partners to provide solutions for a range of societal issues by building ferries and RORO vessels with excellent fuel efficiency and environmental performance that contribute to stable navigation for customers.


Photo credit: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding
Published: 20 June, 2024

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Maersk and Nike to christen methanol-fuelled boxship at Port of Los Angeles in August

Powered by methanol for its maiden voyage and capable of carrying more than 16,000 containers, the vessel will get its new name at a private ceremony at Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor.






A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) on Wednesday (19 June) said it will be christening one of the world’s first methanol-enabled vessels when it arrives in Los Angeles this August.

The firm invited the public to go aboard the container ship in Los Angeles.

Powered by methanol for its maiden voyage and capable of carrying more than 16,000 containers (TEU), the vessel will get its new name at a private ceremony at the Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor on Tuesday, August 27. 

Maersk’s CEO Vincent Clerc will be on hand, alongside special guest speakers from Nike and leading state and local officials. Nike is a partner in the name-giving event.

“Nike is committed to protecting the future of sport and we leverage science-based targets to guide us through our Move to Zero journey,” said Venkatesh Alagirisamy, Nike Chief Supply Chain Officer.

“Operating one of the largest supply chains in the world, we have a responsibility to advance the innovation and use of more sustainable methods that get us closer to zero carbon and zero waste. By working with suppliers like Maersk, who share our commitment to sustainability, we are scaling our use of biofuels in ocean transportation, our main first-mile delivery channel.”

“This event is not only an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable engineering achievement, but the chance to highlight that we can navigate towards more sustainable supply chains if we work together,” said Charles van der Steene, Regional President for Maersk North America.

On Wednesday, August 28, Maersk invites the public to tour the 350-meter-long vessel, which will be sailing from Asia. Visitors will be able to see the Sailors’ living quarters and even stand on the bridge from where the captain controls the vessel. Public tours will require visitors register for a free ticket via an online registration site that will be activated and announced in August.

This is the fifth container vessel in Maersk’s fleet that can sail on green methanol bunker fuel.


Photo credit: A.P. Moller – Maersk
Published: 20 June, 2024

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Methanol Institute: Innovative developments and strategic collaborations (Week 24, 10-16 June 2024)

This week highlights notable advancements in methanol fuel technology, strategic partnerships, and industry analyses, underscoring the maritime sector’s ongoing commitment to sustainable fuel solutions.





Methanol Institute logo

The Methanol Institute, provides an exclusive weekly commentary on developments related to the adoption of methanol as a bunker fuel, including significant related events recorded during the week, for the readers of bunkering publication Manifold Times:

The past week saw further additions to the potential capacity for production of methanol with announcement of a new facility using waste biomass to create biomethanol for the maritime market. Elsewhere, plans for additional port storage was announced at key ports in China. Finally, analysis by Ship & bunker shows that almost half of the bunker capacity represented by the newbuilding orderbook will be powered by alternative fuels.

Methanol marine fuel related developments for Week 24 of 2024:

Norway to Develop Bio-e-Methanol Production Facility

Date: June 10, 2024

Key Points: Glocal Green and Norwegian Hydrogen are partnering to build a bio-e-methanol plant in Øyer, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. The facility will produce 10,000 metric tonnes of bio-e-methanol annually, using hydrogen and CO2 from bio-waste and wood waste. The project aims to support the maritime sector's transition to green fuels, leveraging local renewable resources to create sustainable methanol, thus contributing to Norway's environmental goals and the broader global push for cleaner energy solutions.

Green Marine Fuels and Vopak Collaborate on Green Methanol Storage Facilities

Date: June 12, 2024

Key Points: Green Marine Fuels Trading and Vopak have announced a strategic partnership to develop green methanol storage facilities at key ports, including Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang in China. This collaboration aims to expand the infrastructure needed to support the growing demand for green methanol as a sustainable marine fuel. The facilities will enhance the supply chain for green methanol, aligning with global efforts to decarbonize the shipping industry and promote the use of alternative fuels.

Global Orderbook Analysis: Conventional vs. Alternative Bunker Fuel Demand

Date: June 13, 2024

Key Points: An analysis of the global newbuilding orderbook, conducted by Ship and Bunker, reveals that of a total 33.8 million tonnes (mt) of bunker demand, alternative fuelled ships represent 46% or 15.6mt of bunker demand.

Methanol accounts for 3.2 mt (10%) compared to 10.5mt (31%) for LNG, a figure skewed by the vast orderbook for LNG carriers which partly use their cargo as fuel.

The data from DNV Alternative Fuels Insight indicates a significant shift towards alternative fuels, driven by containerships and LNG carriers, reflecting the maritime industry's continuing focus on reducing carbon emissions and adopting greener fuel options.


Photo credit: Methanol Institute
Published: 20 June, 2024

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