Investing in crew training is an important step in creating an onboard culture committed to fuel savings and environmental gains, says fleet energy efficiency manager at Maersk Supply Service Eirini Arvanitaki.
While shipping companies are willing to invest in sophisticated digital solutions to provide better insight into ship performance and potential fuel savings, Ms Arvanitaki warns that they will not deliver their maximum benefits unless their purpose is understood and appreciated by those operating the technologies. When it comes to improving the fuel performance of a ship, investment into crew training and emphasis on a collaborative and information transparent culture is just as important as it is the crew that “can actually make the changes,” Ms Arvanitaki explained during Digital Ship’s Vessel Performance Optimisation forum held in Copenhagen last month.
In 2018, Maersk Supply Service set a target of 5 per cent energy reduction by 2019. In early 2019, the Danish shipping company had already exceeded this target and has recently confirmed at least 9 per cent savings, equivalent to 1,800 tonnes of marine gas oil (MGO) and 1,500 tonnes of CO2.
While some new tools and technologies helped the company to achieve these savings, Ms Arvanitaki confirmed that a large part of it was the result of Maersk Supply Service giving its crews the tools to understand how they could influence ship and fuel performance.
Earlier this year, Maersk Supply Service signed a contract with Eniram to deliver an Energy Advisory System. The system was designed to automatically collect data from sensors and systems and send it to shore, identify in real-time the potential for savings and advise the operator, and to evaluate performance and calculate accurate savings. Ms Arvanitaki explained that one of the main focuses when selecting the software was its visibility. “We wanted to have visibility on fuel spent and operations because we are paying for fuel in most cases. But we also wanted to go one step further by making the investment and seeing how we could actually provide some advice to our crews.” She explained that this decision was based on wanting to provide clear, visible information to the crew so they could understand the ship’s fuel consumption and how to change it. “This really allowed a change in behavioural awareness,” she said.
As part of the training provided by Maersk to help its staff and crew gain a greater understanding of fuel performance, five workshops were carried out with over 110 offshore employees and 20 onshore personnel present. “The purpose was to help them understand performance indicators that they could relate to,” Ms Arvanitaki explained.
She went on to say that something they found was that not all ideas are good for all vessels and not everything works for every team or every set up. “We have many different ships with various propulsion and engines so fuel consumption and savings will differ.” For this reason, Maersk wanted to make sure its training would allow individuals to gain confidence in being flexible with their operations to improve vessel energy efficiency.
The workshop sessions also discussed how data can be used to change behaviours and to provide evidence of improvements to clients. “We help the participants to learn which ways to engage everyone onboard with energy efficient mindset and operations. Leaders need to be able to know how to communicate this,” she said.
Ms Arvanitaki reiterated the importance of communication when implementing change. “First, you need to make a plan of how to achieve energy efficient operations. Then how your staff can achieve this, but make sure to follow it up. Communication back to teams is important,” she said. “Our workshops see officers make a plan of things to achieve and how they are going to implement and communicate this to rest of team.
Ms Arvanitaki also pointed to the importance of extending knowledge around data and data quality to crew. “We use data to measure our performance as every time we bid for a new tender then we are asked by our clients to estimate our consumption. To do that we need to be as competitive but realistic as possible. So, we bring the crew in here and give them pointers about why this data on energy efficiency is so important.” She confirmed that so far it has been received very well and the dialogue and communications Maersk has ensured has played a significant role in achieving better energy efficiency of its operations.