True North Marine, Canada’s only ship routing service provider, wanted to develop software to optimize routes so its customers could reduce fuel consumption and costs. The Montreal company worked with IVADO, which supports artificial intelligence initiatives by linking organizations and researchers. Results ? The tool developed performs in a few seconds – and with greater precision – what an expert can do in about twenty minutes.
Reduce fuel consumption
Companies that lease vessels to transport their goods need expertise to know which is the best route to take. “When we started in 2013, we considered weather information to create the fastest and safest routes, but now we have to go much further, in particular to reduce fuel consumption,” explains Brian Hatter, president of True North Marine.
The International Maritime Organization is also demanding that industry reduce its CO2 emissions.2 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050, compared to 2008.
“We knew we could make improvements quickly,” says Brian Hatter. Because a ship can move quickly at sea using a lot of fuel, but then have to wait a few days before it can enter port. We wanted a smart tool to determine every day which is the best route to take and at what speed. »
The company-researcher marriage
In 2019, True North Marine knocked on IVADO’s door to develop the algorithm behind the new software. “We agreed to work on this project because the company had a lot of data and the 114 professors who are part of the Interuniversity Research Center on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transport (CIRRELT) are specialized in the route optimization”, explains Jean-François Bruneau, CIRRELT knowledge mobilization advisor at IVADO.
The research project was led by Mikael Rönnqvist, a professor at Laval University, a specialist in operational research, who has worked for a long time in industry. “He understands the needs of companies well,” says Jean-François Bruneau.
He was accompanied by other professors and students from different universities.
Results that exceed expectations
After three years of work, the software is finished and begins to be used on boats. It takes into consideration the cost of renting the boat per day – which can reach $100,000 – the price of fuel, when the boat can enter port and weather constraints. In a few seconds, the software gives three scenarios: the fastest route, the one that consumes the least fuel and the one that finds a balance between these two variables.
If a captain does this work by hand, it takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and it is less precise.
Brian Hatter, President of True North Marine
True North Marine is now very excited to see how much fuel it will save in a year. “We estimate that the tool could reduce fuel consumption by at least 5%, indicates the president. If a boat consumes 40 metric tonnes per day, that’s the equivalent of around 2 metric tonnes per day multiplied by the 800 boats we produce routes for, so that’s a lot! »
“This is one of the best projects carried out by IVADO,” says Jean-François Bruneau. True North Marine has invested a huge amount of time in this, and that’s what makes the difference. »
True North Marine and IVADO are now trying to figure out what their next project will be for further improvements.
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Artificial intelligence | Greener and less expensive maritime routes
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