The quest for the perfect pit stop

From Juan Fangio to Michael Schumacher, Formula 1 has slashed pit stop times from more than 1 minute in the 1950s to under 2 seconds today. With the launch of its own Pit Stop, Maersk hopes to emulate F1’s improvements with container vessel port calls. 

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An application called Pit Stop rolled out to Maersk container vessel crews and operations staff this month. The app, delivered on a cellphone to the vessels, will enable Maersk to collect key operational data at each port call to help optimize port calls and vessel operations.

“What we’re doing with Pit Stop is aiming to make our port calls more efficient and more predictable and to reduce the need for last minute changes to plans. We can do that if we know in real-time when key vessel operations begin and end,” says Gert-Jan Biemond, Senior Project Manager for Pit Stop.

“And by deploying Pit Stop across our fleet, we will begin to get a detailed port-by-port view of our vessel operations and where we and our suppliers can be more efficient to deliver a more reliable and better service to our customers and their supply chains,” he says.

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So far, 57 container vessels have received the mobile phone with pre-installed Pit Stop app. The rest of the 500+ own and chartered vessels in the Maersk fleet will receive it during the next quarter.

Every minute counts

An efficient pit stop starts with having a detailed plan. The marine operators in the LOC can update port stay plans in the Pit Stop tool, and send them to the app with one click. This reduces information flow lead time to the vessels significantly, and vessels can e.g. reduce speed faster which will result in bunker savings.

The app displays the 16 most important events that occur during a vessel port call, for example ‘Pilot on Board’, ‘First Container Lift’ and ‘Last Line’. When an event happens, the officer on duty taps the ‘Log Time’ button on the app. This time-stamp is received in real time by operations staff on shore and visualized in systems and on video walls, in the Liner Operation Centres (LOCs) where it is used for vessel planning. The data is also used to ‘actualize’ arrival and departure details in GSIS, which is then available real time on maerskline.com.

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Every minute and second count. To get the benefits, we have to look at each and every one of our +80,000 port stays as a unique opportunity to shave off time, which can be converted into dollars.

Svend P. Sroczynski, PitStop Team Lead

In addition to the time-stamp, Pit Stop enables the duty officer to provide extra information about any deviation from plan, including root causes or notes about an underperforming contractor. 

“New technology is being introduced. Pit Stop is built on the MS Azure platform and the COMS4T platform. Integration has not been an easy journey, and a lot of first mover learnings have been captured, making future app developments smoother. However, the most important and difficult part of Pit Stop is the process, mindset and behavior change we are asking of our colleagues on the vessels and in the LOCs,” says Svend P. Sroczynski, PitStop Team Lead.

“Every minute and second count. To get the benefits, we have to look at each and every one of our +80,000 port stays as a unique opportunity to shave off time, which can be converted into dollars. The first release of Pit Stop will enable this through standard planning tools and real time situational awareness”.