Keeping an eye on the fleet

Our Fleet Support Center has all Hapag-Lloyd vessels worldwide on its screens. By optimising workflows at sea and on land, it further reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The winter months around the turn of the year are infamous among sailors. They mean the storm season on many seas like the North Atlantic. At Hapag-Lloyd’s Fleet Support Center in Hamburg, or FSC for short, the worst storm areas are always easy to spot. During those months, they appear on large interconnected flat screens as violet-coloured fields on a map of the world. Small numbers are displayed at their edges – at the moment, a 14 and a 15 can be seen to the south of Great Britain and Ireland.

They keep an eye on the whole fleet: Jörn Springer (on the right) and his colleagues of the Fleet Support Center (FSC).

They indicate the wave height in metres. “The software has already cut out the top third. This means that ships may encounter individual waves here that are much higher,” says Jörn Springer. The former ship operations officer, who went to sea himself between 1993 and 2002, is head of the FSC today. His goal is to reduce the fuel consumption as well as the CO2 emissions of alle vessels in Hapag-Lloyd’s current fleet by optimising workflows at sea and on land.

By increasing transparency and communication between all of the relevant departments on land and the ship management teams, unnecessary consumption can be avoided – such as if a ship had to use more power because of a storm or big waves in order to arrive at its destination port as scheduled, even though it would then have to wait there before it could dock. That is why the FSC gathers information from a number of different areas so that it can be assessed and shared accordingly.

Special software forms the interface between the ships and the FSC. All of Hapag-Lloyd’s ships – its own as well as chartered vessels – can be identified by their positions on the large world map. At the click of a mouse, the staff members in the FSC can access important data and details about a ship – its planned route and destination port, the status of its cargo and the current and expected weather conditions.

“Speed is the most important factor for a ship’s fuel consumption. Draught and trim are also relevant, but cannot be optimised in isolation from each other. Under certain circumstances, a ship can even consume less bunker when its draught is greater,” explains Jörn Springer, who himself spent many years travelling the world on Hapag-Lloyd ships. The only way to optimise consumption is by taking a holistic view of all the factors, and the Fleet Support Center makes this possible.

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