The air is cool in the air-conditioned office in Mumbai, which houses the situation room of Maersk Line’s Global Vessel Performance Centre (GVPC). Charts and maps are displayed on large screens on the wall. Three employees, eyes fixed on a chart displayed on one of the screens, quietly discuss the numbers. Just outside the glass walls, other employees are on the phone, giving advice to crews on vessels.
“If we take a look at the Bay of Biscay for example, we can see some bad weather coming up with 9-10 metre waves,” says Stephan Martinussen, while pointing to one of the other screens.
“When we see something like this, we reach out to the vessels that are in the area so that they can avoid entering the storm. We do so for the safety of the vessel and its cargo as well as to ensuring that the voyage is as economical as possible.”
It all adds up
Martinussen is the Head of the GVPC. Together with a team of 37, his job is to engage with crews on the roughly 600 vessels operating in Maersk Line’s fleet with a view to optimising their voyages from a fuel efficiency perspective and, ultimately, to remove all excess consumption. Avoiding bad weather is a big part of this. Another is the adjustment of vessel speed by as little as half a knot. It all adds up – especially when best practice is shared and implemented across the entire fleet.
Since the centre opened in 2012, Maersk Line’s fuel consumption has been reduced by a staggering 400,000 tonnes – corresponding to savings worth USD 250 million. Previously, operations at sea were managed by the crews alone, which in some cases led to a difference in the performance of vessels of the same class.
“I think we all had to get used to being contacted by the GVPC when it started. I had a feeling that there were potential savings to be made so I didn’t mind, but I know that some colleagues were really angry about the initiative to begin with,” says Roeland IJssel de Schepper, who has been a captain since 2004.