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Digitization advocate says time for port call optimization is now

Digital Container Shipping Association just-in-time program launched to facilitate vessel speed optimization and reduce CO2 emissions

The Digital Container Shipping Association published its Port Call Data Definitions on Tuesday. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Imagine the fuel and emissions savings if the container shipping industry steered away from the traditional hurry-up-and-wait sailings to just-in-time port calls.

The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) wants to make those savings reality and on Tuesday released its first publication as part of its just-in-time (JIT) port call program.

DCSA said by moving the industry toward a JIT port call process, established standards will enable container ships to optimize their steaming speed, lowering fuel consumption and reducing CO2 emissions because they won’t be stuck outside ports waiting for berthing slots. 

“The JIT port call will streamline a number of key processes for industry stakeholders and it will also benefit the environment,” said DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge in Tuesday’s statement. “Enabling a vessel to optimize its speed during the voyage to arrive just in time at the pilot boarding place, when berth availability is ensured, will significantly reduce the amount of fuel consumed. 

“Achieving this will require digital collaboration between carriers, ports and terminals,” said Bagge, formerly an executive with A.P. Møller – Maersk. “DCSA digital standards play an important role in establishing the harmonious ecosystem that will allow this level of collaboration and today’s release is the first step towards the creation of that ecosystem.”

Port Call Data Definitions can be downloaded for free from the DCSA website. The definitions are designed to help carriers, ports and terminals exchange event data in a uniform way, enabling digital planning and operational optimization. 

Widespread adoption is the first step toward achieving a digital, global, transparent, just-in-time port call ecosystem, DCSA said in its announcement.

DCSA was founded in April 2019 to drive standardization, digitization and interoperability in container shipping. The Amsterdam-based nonprofit is made up of nine container carriers: MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM, ZIM and Ocean Network Express (ONE). 

The latest release is part of DCSA’s continuing efforts to make information sharing easier. In early July, it tackled ship-related information transparency with the publication of standards for the exchange of operational vessel schedules. In June, it published what it said were the first Internet of Things connectivity standards for shipping containers. And in May, it announced a collaborative effort to push for industry adoption of electronic bills of lading

DCSA said its port call data definitions align with International Maritime Organization and International Task Force Port Call Optimization JIT standards. 

The task force has said that improving the quality and availability of event data, including planned time of arrival at berth and estimated time of completion of cargo operations, will enable just-in-time berth scheduling and preplanning of port services. 

Subsequent releases in DCSA’s JIT port call program will include application programming interface definitions for automating the exchange of event data.

Frank Kho, CEO of Terminal Industry Committee 4.0, applauded DCSA’s efforts to develop standards to enable greater port call efficiency.

“Port call optimization will enable terminal operators to provide many benefits to their shipping customers,” Kho said in Tuesday’s announcement. “With just-in-time port calls, arrival times and berth space can be optimally managed. This means capacity, equipment and staffing can be more accurately estimated and planned.”

Webinars will be scheduled to provide more information about the DCSA JIT port call standards. Registration links may be found on the DCSA event page.  

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.