container vessel

To calculate the load factor of ships on a larger scale - new pre-study

Transport activities can become more energy and cost efficient by improving the load factor, i.e. balancing the required and available capacity of transportation. Statistics about load factor are missing today, in particular for sea transports. There are unused opportunities to calculate load factor of ships by using innovative data collection techniques, enabled through digitalisation in terms of AIS (Automatic Identification System). SSPA’s experts has investigated how the load factor can be mapped from AIS-data and analysed the energy efficiency potential of an increased load factor in sea transports. 

The pre-study “Energy efficiency through increased load factor in sea transportation” is a first step towards a methodology to calculate the load factor of ships on a larger scale, and to provide an indication of the energy efficiency potential of an increased load factor. To be able to identify realistic scenarios our experts involved shipowners, logistics- and transport operators, as well as goods owners. 

Two scenarios with departures between Gothenburg and Rotterdam was selected and analysed and they both showed an energy efficiency improvement through the transfer of goods using existing capacity; and by streamlining, i.e. reduced frequency and larger vessels. Using existing capacity to a greater extent, i.e. sending more goods by sea the days with the lowest load factor, would reduce energy consumption by 19% for all departures over one year. Increasing vessel size and reducing the frequency from twice to once a week reduces the energy consumption of traffic on these departures by 25% per week. 

- “This study is a first step towards a methodology to be able to calculate the load factor in sea transports. The results show that it is possible to increase the utilization of transport capacity for container vessels”, says Vendela Santén, PhD, Project Manager and researcher at SSPA. “We have now identified several areas for further research, for example identify how the load factor can be increased, coupled to minimize the positioning of empty containers”, she continues.

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Energieffektivisering genom ökad fyllnadsgrad i sjötransporter.

Report only in Swedish, published 27 December 2018. (Energy efficiency through increased load factor in sea transportation). Writers: SSPA Sweden AB: Vendela Santén, Martin Alexandersson, Axel Hörteborn, Sara Rogerson, Martin Svanberg, Fredrik Olsson.

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Transport activities can become more energy and cost efficient by improving the load factor, i.e. balancing the required and available capacity of transportation.