Dynamic Real-Time Ocean Fleet Scheduling Solution
Tankers International (TI), one of the largest operators of modern double hull VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers), uses Magenta’s leading edge multi-agent software (Ocean) to help identify and schedule the most profitable combination of cargoes for its fleet of more than 40 vessels. Magenta has worked closely with TI’s London-based agency, Tankers (UK) Agencies Ltd., to develop and deliver a sophisticated, real-time, ocean logistics tool to optimise the performance and management of its modern double hull fleet.
The oil transportation market is extremely volatile with transportation costs fluctuating on a daily basis. Therefore, TI has to be able to deal with unexpected circumstances and operate from an optimised schedule, and Magenta’s multi-agent technology is instrumental in allowing it to do so. The principal problems that had to be resolved by the system were:
- Estimation of the effectiveness of use of the company’s tankers for the execution of Contracts of a affreightment (COA) and Consecutive voyages (CVS), using a variety of transportation strategies (Optimise Revenue,
- Minimise Empty Operations, Maximise Profit) for the whole fleet or separate tankers;
- Estimation of the expediency of spot contracts and terms and conditions of their execution; estimation of the effectiveness of decision-making by different operators, and search for optimal conditions for using of each particular operator;
- Analysis of the activity of competitors on the oil transportation market;
- Analysis of parameters for effective functioning of the fleet of tankers with regard to volumes and types of contracts, ports of destination, weather and other internal and external factors;
- Calculation of costs, revenue and operating margins of the companyto identify potential new or different strategies for planning and execution of contracts;
- Simulation of current situations in case of unforeseen changes of contract terms and conditions, weather and other internal and external factors with the view to searching for well-grounded and effective decisions for the scheduling of, and undertaking of transportation.
The Magenta’s dynamic fleet scheduler is one of the most innovative real-time scheduling systems in the world. The multi-agent technology allows TI to assess potential cargoes in the marketplace, automatically match these against its vessels’ specifications and calculate voyage profitability. Further, unlike traditional rules-based systems, multi-agent technology responds to real world changes affecting a schedule and replans the most advantageous schedule at that point in time.
Within the TI scheduling system, Magenta’s multi-agent technology works by allocating a single software agent to each element of the business network. These agents then work collectively to find out the best fit between supply and demand to meet the specification of individual vessels as well as the strategy of the entire fleet.
Therefore, when a new cargo is offered, agents are created within the database that contains all the data about the cargo – for example freight rates, size, and type of cargo, as well as load and discharge ports. The agents then negotiate within the virtual market to decide the optimum vessel for the cargo, based on TI’s fleet strategy. The agents do this by competing to find the best solution between supply and demand by comparing alternative routes, vessels, ports, costs, freight rates, fuel for propulsion, speed, distance and even positions of the vessels. This data and the defining concepts upon which the agents base their decisions are stored within the knowledge base.
Unlike other traditional systems, agents are also able to resolve conflicts as they are not bound by rigid rules and are able to work around problems. Furthermore, having presented the best solutions to the operations team, the agents continue to work to provide alternative solutions to ensure that any unforeseen factors, such as changing freight rates or vessel positions, are reacted to dynamically.
The unique capabilities of the multi-agent technology give a crucial competitive edge for the oil transporting company to ensure the maximum profitability for its vessels in the highly volatile oil market, where global prices fluctuate regulary.
Applied to solving problems of Tankers International, Magenta’s dynamic Ocean fleet scheduling software:
- Generates and ranks all feasible shipping options for all vessels within seconds;
- Calculates detailed Activity Based Costs, Key Performance Indicators and financial results based on the scheduling decisions;
- Delivers effective management of shipping data on a state-of-the art platform;
- Provides a web-based application for effective global team working.
These features are ultimately aimed at the optimisation of the company’s operational resources: effective planning, decision-making and management, reducing time for situation analysis, increased serviceability for managers and operators of the company and elimination of routine calculations.