Marine Transport System Efficiency Increasing

Introduction

The marine transportation system consists of various structures. They include, among others, waterways, fixed infrastructure, such as ports or terminals, and intermodal connections. It is also made up of means of transportation, system users, and organizational networks that ensure the vessels and infrastructure are used effectively. Marine transport can be global or domestic in nature. It is global in nature given that it services world trade by connecting markets in different parts of the world. It moves up to 90% of all cargo and commodities in the global market at fairly low prices.1

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Marine transportation system largely benefits from well established and comprehensive international laws. The laws provide ideal conditions for trade, especially where international commerce is involved. It is the backbone of world trade and globalization. Global legal structures are fundamental in sustaining economic growth and spreading prosperity throughout the world. Similarly, marine transportation plays a major role in domestic trade. It is especially common in countries with long shorelines, navigable rivers, and multiple islands. Such countries include Greece, Indonesia, Japan, and the USA.2

The current paper takes an in-depth look into the steps and measures that can be taken to enhance the efficiency of maritime transport. Such strategies can be used to avert the looming transport crisis. In the paper, special consideration is given to the shipping mode of transport. The reason is that it is the most commonly used type of transport in the marine sector.

Enhancing Efficiency in the Maritime Transport Sector

Improving Energy Efficiency

Research in this field has shown that a number of factors will lead to increased growth in maritime transportation in the near future. Such factors include increased population growth, rapid industrialization, and exhaustion of local resources. Others include road congestion and elimination of trade barriers. Since 1990, seaborne transport has increased by 87%.3 The number of goods and people requiring to be ferried over water is also larger than the available fleet of vessels, leading to a shipping crisis. In order to overcome this problem, the efficiency and safety of the available maritime shipping services must be improved. Maritime transport system should be made more efficient to accommodate the growing demand and pressure for water transport.

Shipping is by far the most energy efficient means of mass cargo transport. Nevertheless, efforts to find ways of reducing fuel consumption must continue with a view of increasing efficiency of shipping operations. Ships that conserve fuel are able to transport cargo and people over longer distances when compared to those that consume a lot of energy. The development makes them more efficient and cheaper to use.4

Energy efficiency can be ensured in a number of ways. One of them entails structural design. The design of a vessel is the main determinant of the efficiency of a ship. For instance, improving this element is known to reduce fuel consumption by about 30%. Technical measures should be taken to produce vessels with highly efficient marine engines. In addition, such vessels should have optimized flow profiles around the hull, rudder, and propeller. Poor design, incorrect use of propulsive arrangements, and poorly maintained hull and propellers lead to increased fuel consumption. Such a development reduces the efficiency of a ship.5

The design of a vessel should take into consideration such factors as the type of goods the ship is to carry, how the cargo will be loaded and offloaded, and the route to be taken. Consideration of such parameters allows for the building of vessels that are tailor-made to perform specific tasks. Such machines are highly efficient given that it takes less time to load and offload and travel to the required destinations. As such, designing for operations should be prioritized over less costly construction at the yard. Such a measure is viable from an energy efficient perspective.

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Many ships consume a lot of fuel in the process of producing electricity. The power is used to run such onboard facilities as air conditioning, cookers, lighting equipments, and pumps for loading and offloading of cargo when in the port. Such fuel can be used in transporting goods or passengers over long distances without refueling.6 Marine transport systems can be made more efficient by constructing onshore electricity facilities. Such installations can be used to power the ships and other vessels, such as ferries, when they have docked. The move will help save fuel that can be used during voyage. Ultimately, the cost of shipping will be reduced.

Use of Alternative Fuel

Most marine vessels operate on liquid petroleum fuel. The most commonly used forms of this energy include marine distillate and residual fuel. In the past, diesel fuel was efficiently used in marine transport vessels since it was cheap and readily available. However, in the recent years, diesel prices have skyrocketed, making it expensive to use in marine vessels. As such, it is wise to use cheaper and cleaner forms of fuel in order to reduce the high prices incurred in using diesel. There are few liquid fuels that can replace oil for ship propulsion. They include, among others, liquefied natural gas (LNG). The gas can replace oil as the fuel of choice in ships since it has already being proved to work efficiently in carrier ships.7 Natural gas reserves are also expected to last longer than their oil counterparts. As such, this is a suitable long term energy investment.

Based on current price forecasts, LNG is 70% less expensive than marine residual oil. In addition, it is 85% cheaper than marine distillate fuel. The price advantage is projected to continue and increase up to the year 2035.8 Consequently, ships built to use liquefied natural gas will be more efficient and cheaper to use in moving large amounts of goods and people over long or short distances compared to those using regular fuel.

Another alternative that should be considered is nuclear marine station. It refers to the propulsion of a ship with power provided by a nuclear reactor.9 Operation of a civil or cargo nuclear power reactor is similar to land based stations. A sustained nuclear reaction in the reactor produces heat that is used to boil water. The water produces steam that is used to turn turbines. The turbine is then coupled through a gearbox speed reducer to the ship’s propellers.

Nuclear powered ships are extremely efficient in sea transport due to a number of logistical and operating characteristics.10 For instance, a small amount of nuclear fuel can provide energy equivalent to millions of times its weight in coal or oil.11 Consequently, it is more practical to build vessels with reactors than those using fossil fuel. The reason is that the former can operate for many years without refueling, while the latter needs to be replenished frequently.

It is a fact that the cost of manufacturing nuclear fuel elements is high. However, the overall cost of operations is lower than those associated with a similar fossil fuel powered ships. Nuclear powered vessels are also more efficient since they are independent from the vagaries of procurement of fuel at every port they stop at.12

The laborious and costly process of loading and burning fuel is largely eliminated for most part of the vessel’s life. Because of its high power density and elimination of the need for large fuel bankers, a nuclear propelled ship provides additional space for paying cargo and passengers. As such, it improves the efficiency of transporting cargo compared to fossil fuel powered ships, which use fuel that take large spaces for storage.

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Nuclear propelled ships are also generally faster and can travel for longer distances than the conventional vessels. They are only limited by the endurance of the crew as opposed to fuel supply or battery capacity. Nuclear reactors are also very environmentally friendly. They require no oxygen for combustion, meaning that they do not emit any exhaust gases. It is also an added advantage since the space used to install exhaust ducts and machinery required for the burning of fossil fuels in diesel ships is put into better use in the transportation of more cargo.

Nuclear propulsion has already proved itself as both technically and economically feasible in nuclear icebreakers in the Soviet Arctic.13 The ships operate for years without refueling. They have powerful engines that are suited for the task of ice breaking.14 For instance, the Soviet icebreaker Lenin was the world’s first nuclear powered surface vessel. It was manufactured in 1959 and remained in service for 30 years without refueling. The simple fact that nuclear powered ships can travel for long distances without having to refuel makes them extremely efficient in maritime transport system. They save a lot of time and space. In addition, they reduce the costs of running a ship.

Improved Maritime Security

The maritime transportation system is subject to a wide array of security threats. The threats range from piracy and armed robbery against ships to global terrorism and unlawful trade in weapons. There is also risk of smuggling, trafficking in narcotics and in persons, and illegal and unreported fishing.15 The underlying causes of piracy and armed robbery are complex. They are often rooted in the political, economic, and social conditions of coastal states. Such factors give rise to lawlessness and criminal acts on land and at sea.

According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Somali pirates hijacked 47 vessels in 2009. They took 867 crewmembers hostage and carried out no less than 217 violent attacks on ships. Piracy increases the cost of international maritime transport. The reason is that high premiums must be paid to crews sailing through dangerous waters. The cost of insurance also increases as a result of sailing through dangerous territories. As a result, traders opt to use longer and costlier trade routes or change to alternative forms of transport, such as air freight.

The long route around the Cape of Good Hope is commonly used by many companies since 2008. The reason is increased piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden. Security issues will continue to exist as long as world trade continues to expand, extending to new sea routes and ports. The situation leads to congested shipping traffic in certain regions.16 Security threats greatly affect the efficiency of maritime transportation leading, to huge losses in trade and time. For marine transportation system to be efficient, seafarers, ships, and shipping lanes must be protected by the communities that rely on them and benefit from sea trade.

Protection measures must respond to the threats posed to the sea trade and the seafarers in its service. Other measures should be taken in order to ensure pirates and the proceeds from piracy are stopped and that shipping and travel industry can conduct its business as efficiently as possible.17 For instance, nations can join hands in supporting countries where piracy is rampant in reducing poverty and to enhance stabilization, peace building and reconciliation at national, regional and local levels. Such steps can help in achieving counter terrorism and counter piracy objectives in the long term in that a stable government is able to deal with crime more efficiently.

Dealing with the root causes of piracy such as poverty can greatly reduce piracy. Also countries should join hands and support counter-piracy missions such as the royal navy that help in protecting ships as they travel through dangerous waters. Countries where pirates have being caught attempting to bound their ships should also always corporate and press charges against the caught. Countries where pirates have being caught should allow for the prosecution of the pirates regionally.18 Shipping personnel should also be educated on self-protection measures and on how to avoid, deter and delay pirate attacks. Ships should also be allowed to travel with armed guards.

Bodies such as the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Co-ordination Centre (RAPPICC) and Piracy Ransoms Taskforce have being established to target the leaders, financiers and enablers of piracy by building evidence packages for use in their prosecutions. Security measures should aim at eradicating rather than suppressing piracy because of the increasing costs of providing security which reduces the efficiency of marine transport system.

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Improved efficiency and Quality of Port Services

Ports play a major role in any maritime country’s development and economy as nearly 75% of trade between a country and the rest of the world is handled in ports.19 Thus, the importance of ensuring efficiency in ports is related to the ability of a maritime country to be competitive at international level. Inefficient ports also hinder international trade in that ports are used by many ships worldwide which call on the ports for services such as fuel, maintenance and cargo loading and offloading. Therefore, inefficient ports greatly affect marine transportation system.

However, many ports lack the ability to adopt efficiently in order to meet the ever changing and developing needs of the transportation system. Ports have the ability to save the maritime millions of dollars by increased efficiency in ports. It is therefore wise to consider a set of approaches ranging from soft measures to moderate approaches. For instance, the use of modern technology in port operations can prove extremely useful in improving port efficiency and handling capacity. Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System is a program that provides mariners with free real time information on currents, water and air temperature, barometric pressure, bridge clearance and wind speed gusts and direction through an easy-to-use web portal.20

The system provides commercial and recreational mariners with reliable navigational information for safe and efficient travel. Ports can use the information from this system to significantly reduce the risk of vessel groundings hence increasing the amount of cargo moved through the port by enabling mariners to safely use every inch of dredged channel depth. The system also enables ships to time their arrivals and departures efficiently hence ultimately contributing to the overall efficiency of the marine transportation system.21

Port efficiency can also be increased by introduction of completion in the ports. Competition is mainly achieved by introducing the private sector into port activities. Research has shown that many of the benefits that arise from involving the private sector stem from competitive pressures. The more the port system can be structured to allow entry at different levels, the more competitive pressure that can be introduced. In most ports, one single operator controls the berth to gate operations which is highly inefficient since the operator isn’t under any competition or pressure to operate more efficiently. Establishing port competition involves three steps.

The first step is to examine closely the structure of the sector, accessing market conditions and how the services may be restructured. The next step is to implement the port sector restructuring by creating opportunities for competition in one or more segments of the port sector. The third stage involves establishing regulatory oversight to maintain fair competition and to protect port users.22 Competition has being proved to greatly improve the efficiency in ports since every player strive to provide the best quality services. Port can also be improved by ensuring that the infrastructure such as cargo handling, dredging machines and towage machines required for the efficient running of a port are available.

Increased Technical Support Services

As trade expands throughout the world, new actors are bound to enter the maritime transportation system. New ports will be built and the existing ones will have to be upgraded for increased efficiency. For all these activities to take place, a competent and efficient technical team will be required to assist in the building sector.23 A great number of seafarers onboard ships involved in international trading are provided by developing countries. Order books also indicate a growing role of a number of developing nations in building of ships for the anticipated growth in worldwide trade.

To ensure an efficient maritime transportation system, new and sustainable funding sources and partnerships for technical co-operation should be developed to enhance existing programs of technical assistance and to meet future needs, both for ship and shore based functions in critical areas of activity such as ship building and repair, port facility management and development. Increased coordination of capacity building activities is also necessary to reduce duplication of efforts and to ensure that technical assistance that is received is not only what was asked but also what was needed. For further efficiency in the marine transportation system, technical cooperation should be extended to the development of hydrographic and metrological information that aids in better navigation.24

Efficient Traffic Management Services

In maritime transport, vessel traffic management refers to a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbor or port authorities to keep track of vessel movement and provide navigational assistance safety for marine vessels in a specific geographical area. The use of oceans has become more intensive due to the increase in use of maritime transport and other users such as fishers, tourists, offshore explorers and water sports fanatics. For marine transport systems to be more efficient, the already crowded seas with greater density of ships and other vessels will need to be supported by better and clearer information systems. Services such as meteorology, oceanography and should also be provided for safer navigation.

Other measures to increase efficiency of sea traffic include building of facilities such as lighthouses and use of modern technology in vessels in order to guide ships safely. An efficient marine transportation system requires co-operation and harmonization in the development of optimal systems for navigation. Where possible, traffic management systems should seek to establish new routes that are safer and shorter to use hence saving time and fuel that can be used elsewhere. An efficient information service should also be put in place in traffic management to ensure that essential information becomes available in time for on-board navigational decisions making.

New Technology and Innovation Sharing Platform

New ships strive to be more sophisticated in all aspects of their design, construction and operation while existing ships are expected to meet ever more stringent efficiency as well as environmental demands. Such conditions require them to comply with new regulatory requirements for retrofitting equipments. Continuing technological advances to meet these high standards call for increased sharing of knowledge, experience and know-how in order to maximize the benefits of innovation and new technology for shipping thus increasing the cost effectiveness of the sector.

An efficient maritime transport system therefore requires a platform for the facilitation of innovation, showcasing of new technology and its applications. The maritime transport industry should take advantage of this technology sharing platform in order to maximize its performance and efficiency. Technology shared should prepare ships for new cargo types and new trades so as to deal with the increased pressure on maritime transport systems.

Education and Training

The shipping sector will continuously evolve as new technology that: enhances the safety of ship and cargo, causes less pollution, uses new routes and navigation is invented. Newly introduced equipment will lead to crews performing new or different functions.25 Retrofitted or new equipment together with evolving shipboard procedures will also necessitate follow up training for crew members for them to be able to efficiently utilize the new technology. For a maritime transport system to be highly efficient, seafarers must also be properly trained and educated on new technological advancements.26 Training and education should include refresher training and education upgrades.

Conclusion

Marine Transportation systems play a big role in the economic stability and prosperity of any maritime nation. Few nations can be able to buy new vessels and build new ports to accommodate the increased pressure on marine transportation system. The paper however proves that there is hope for such nations through the concept of efficient marine transportation approach. The few available resources can be put into efficient use in order to be able to handle the new pressure on the transportation systems. The various factors covered in this paper illustrate how countries can move from inefficient practices to efficient practices that save on fuel, time, space and manpower. Efficient marine transportation alone has the power to save the world billions of dollars.

Bibliography

Davy, James G., and Chang-Kyun Noh. ‘A Study On Educations Role In Establishing Strategies For Improving Safety At Sea’. The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics 27, no. 3 (2011): 483-499.

Dijxhoorn, O.H.J. ‘Port And Shipping Management: The Role Of IMO’. Marine Policy 17, no. 5 (1993): 363-366.

Elsayed, Tarek, Khaled Marghany, and Said Abdulkader. ‘Risk Assessment Of Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers Using Fuzzy TOPSIS’. Ships and Offshore Structures (2013): 1-10.

Fisher, Kenneth. ‘The Impact Of Contracts On Ship Design Preparation’. Journal of Ship Production and Design 28, no. 2 (2012).

‘H Power Ships Commercial Direct Hydrogen Fuel Cells’. Fuel Cells Bulletin 2002, no. 11 (2002): 7.

‘Marine Nuclear Propulsion’. Nature 197, no. 4871 (1963): 953-953.

Na, S. S., and D. G. Karr. ‘An Efficient Stiffness Method For The Optimum Design Of Ship Structures Based On Common Structural Rules’. Ships and Offshore Structures 8, no. 1 (2013): 29-44.

‘Piracy Around The Horn Of Africa’. EchoGéo, no. 10 (2009).

Price, David. ‘Politics, Piracy And Punishment: Copyright Protection In The Arabian Gulf’. The Journal of World Intellectual Property 14, no. 3-4 (2011): 276-300.

Schlappi, Herman C. ‘An Innovative Energy Saving Propulsion System for Naval Ships’. Naval Engineers Journal 94, no. 2 (1982): 200-213.

Willets, H. N. ‘Ship Sets For Harbor Ship-To-Shore Service*’. Bell System Technical Journal 14, no. 4 (1935): 713-717.

Footnotes

  1. Tarek Elsayed, Khaled Marghany and Said Abdulkader, ‘Risk Assessment Of Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers Using Fuzzy TOPSIS’, Ships and Offshore Structures (2013): 1-10.
  2. David Price, ‘Politics, Piracy And Punishment: Copyright Protection In The Arabian Gulf’, The Journal of World Intellectual Property 14, no. 3-4 (2011): 276-300.
  3. Kenneth Fisher, ‘The Impact Of Contracts On Ship Design Preparation’, Journal of Ship Production and Design 28, no. 2 (2012).
  4. S. S. Na and D. G. Karr, ‘An Efficient Stiffness Method For The Optimum Design Of Ship Structures Based On Common Structural Rules’, Ships and Offshore Structures 8, no. 1 (2013): 29-44.
  5. Kenneth Fisher, ‘The Impact Of Contracts On Ship Design Preparation’, Journal of Ship Production and Design 28, no. 2 (2012).
  6. Kenneth Fisher, ‘The Impact Of Contracts On Ship Design Preparation’, Journal of Ship Production and Design 28, no. 2 (2012).
  7. Tarek Elsayed, Khaled Marghany and Said Abdulkader, ‘Risk Assessment Of Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers Using Fuzzy TOPSIS’, Ships and Offshore Structures (2013): 1-10.
  8. Tarek Elsayed, Khaled Marghany and Said Abdulkader, ‘Risk Assessment Of Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers Using Fuzzy TOPSIS’, Ships and Offshore Structures (2013): 1-10.
  9. ‘Marine Nuclear Propulsion’, Nature 197, no. 4871 (1963): 953-953.
  10. David Price, ‘Politics, Piracy And Punishment: Copyright Protection In The Arabian Gulf’, The Journal of World Intellectual Property 14, no. 3-4 (2011): 276-300.
  11. ‘Marine Nuclear Propulsion’, Nature 197, no. 4871 (1963): 953-953.
  12. ‘Marine Nuclear Propulsion’. Nature 197, no. 4871 (1963): 953-953.
  13. ‘Marine Nuclear Propulsion’. Nature 197, no. 4871 (1963): 953-953.
  14. ‘Marine Nuclear Propulsion’. Nature 197, no. 4871 (1963): 953-953.
  15. ‘Piracy Around The Horn Of Africa’, EchoGéo, no. 10 (2009).
  16. David Price, ‘Politics, Piracy And Punishment: Copyright Protection In The Arabian Gulf’, The Journal of World Intellectual Property 14, no. 3-4 (2011): 276-300.
  17. David Price, ‘Politics, Piracy And Punishment: Copyright Protection In The Arabian Gulf’, The Journal of World Intellectual Property 14, no. 3-4 (2011): 276-300.
  18. ‘Piracy Around The Horn Of Africa’, EchoGéo, no. 10 (2009).
  19. O.H.J. Dijxhoorn, ‘Port And Shipping Management: The Role Of IMO’, Marine Policy 17, no. 5 (1993): 363-366.
  20. O.H.J. Dijxhoorn, ‘Port And Shipping Management: The Role Of IMO’, Marine Policy 17, no. 5 (1993): 363-366.
  21. O.H.J. Dijxhoorn, ‘Port And Shipping Management: The Role Of IMO’, Marine Policy 17, no. 5 (1993): 363-366.
  22. O.H.J. Dijxhoorn, ‘Port And Shipping Management: The Role Of IMO’, Marine Policy 17, no. 5 (1993): 363-366.
  23. H. N. Willets, ‘Ship Sets For Harbor Ship-To-Shore Service*’, Bell System Technical Journal 14, no. 4 (1935): 713-717.
  24. H. N. Willets, ‘Ship Sets For Harbor Ship-To-Shore Service*’, Bell System Technical Journal 14, no. 4 (1935): 713-717.
  25. James G. Davy and Chang-Kyun Noh, ‘A Study On Educations Role In Establishing Strategies For Improving Safety At Sea’, The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics 27, no. 3 (2011): 483-499.
  26. James G. Davy and Chang-Kyun Noh, ‘A Study On Educations Role In Establishing Strategies For Improving Safety At Sea’, The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics 27, no. 3 (2011): 483-499.
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