Stolt Tankers, Dow Inc., SGS, and Vopak IIA Freeport have successfully collaborated on a project in the United States to reduce the time ships spend in port. The initial results of this collaboration show a significant reduction in port time by an average of almost two hours, alongside an improvement in the efficiency of cargo transfers to customers.

The “Time Alongside Optimisation Project” was formed by the four stakeholders to enhance supply chain collaboration and efficiency, and to minimise the duration that ships are berthed at terminals. This improvement is particularly critical for chemical tankers, which frequently call at multiple terminals in a region. Delays at any one terminal can adversely affect shipping companies, terminals, and customers across all locations.

Stolt Tankers, Dow Inc., SGS, and Vopak IIA Freeport recognised the mutual benefits of collaboration and shared learnings to expedite ship rotation through each berth. This approach enables terminals to process more ships and ensures faster delivery of products to customers.

Throughout the project, the partners conducted joint reviews of existing processes, procedures, and time alongside data. They identified individual strengths, weaknesses, and causes for delays, and then applied a more robust universal approach. To date, this has involved establishing standardised processes and communication channels, as well as laying the groundwork for future joint digitalization efforts.

“All the project stakeholders bring unique knowledge and expertise to this project, as well as a shared desire to keep our operations safe, efficient, and increasingly sustainable,” said captain Petr Kontush, Stolt Tankers’ Port Captain in Houston, US.

The new approach was tested on Stolt Tankers’ ships at Vopak IIA Terminal Freeport in the US from May to December 2023. During this period, non-cargo transfer time alongside was reduced by an average of two hours per ship. This allowed Vopak to process more Stolt Tankers ships, totaling 62, and reduced demurrage on these ships by approximately 124 hours over the eight-month period. The project is ongoing at Vopak IIA Terminal Freeport, with a sister project now underway at the Vopak Eurotank Terminal in Belgium.

Captain Petr Kontush further stated, “The interim results of our collaboration are promising, and the team is committed to driving further improvements. The plan now for all parties involved is to use the standardised process we have jointly developed to continue to improve activities and processes onboard ships and at Vopak IIA Terminal Freeport, and to share our findings and learnings with other terminals in the US and globally.”

Lance Nunez, global marine and terminal logistics director at Dow Inc., commented, “The sustainability and business targets we have in front of us demand that we operate in new and more efficient ways. This project represents the type of transparent cross-industry collaboration that holds the key to unlocking new levels of efficiency and savings.”

John Woodward, Gulf Coast regional director – Natural Resources, Oil Gas & Chemical Commodities at SGS during the initial phase of the project, added, “I was impressed with the communication and collaboration among the project participants. The open dialogue and honest evaluations of various situations were essential to meet the targets on which we had so much focus.”

Cristhian Perez, president of Vopak IIA, stated, “This initiative is evidence of what happens when you bring together a team of people and companies with diverse skill sets and experiences to achieve a common goal. The cross-functional knowledge was instrumental in providing a ‘fresh eyes’ review of each company’s work processes. We are proud of the team that took this challenge to heart and their willingness to question the status quo. These results are an impressive step forward in the sustainability sector and will aid our customers in their cost-reduction efforts while maintaining a safety-first mindset for our operations.”

This collaborative effort highlights the effectiveness of cross-industry partnerships in driving operational efficiencies and sustainability within the maritime logistics sector.

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7th June 2024