Just in Time Portal

This portal aims to provide an overview of the concept of Just in Time (JIT), the main benefits, and general steps which can be taken towards its implementation. The portal brings together useful resources, including those both developed internally under Ship-Port Interface Workstream of the Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (Low Carbon GIA), and those developed by other international organizations, all with a view to further support the implementation of the JIT concept.

1. What is Just in Time?

The process of making a port call nowadays is generally not optimized. Ships may “hurry” to the next port, only to find out that the berth is not available because another ship is alongside, cargo is not available for loading, or no tank is available for discharging, for example. This results in a ship either having to “wait” outside the port at anchorage for many hours, days or even weeks, or manoeuvre at very low speeds in the port area while waiting for the availability of berth, fairway and nautical services. This “hurry up and wait” mode of ship operation has many disadvantages and from a safety, environmental and economic perspective can be improved significantly.

The term ‘Just in Time’ is used to describe a ship that has sailed to a port with the least amount of bunker fuel consumed, but still arriving in time. In doing this, a ship will save fuel, GHG emissions and will also reduce its anchor time at ports. These factors will have a positive impact on safety, environment and efficiency.

2. What are the benefits of Just in Time?

Improved safety

More info

Reduced emissions and air pollutants

More info

Cost savings (for fuel and lube oil)

Reduced congestion and traffic in the anchorage areas

Better capacity planning – for nautical services, berth planning etc.

Lower risk of piracy in affected areas

Less hull fouling

3. How can JIT be implemented?

In order to understand how JIT can be implemented, it is important to first understand how a ship calls at a port, and all the information that is exchanged between the different actors. JIT requires strong triangular cooperation between the authorities, cargo services and the ship operator, and will also require information and data exchange with other service providers within the port ecosystem (e.g. nautical services, other vessel services etc.).

The process behind how a ship calls at a port is set out in the Port Call Process (see image below), which also lays out the data to be exchanged, at what stage and by whom.

References in the above image refer to the Appendix to the Port Call Process.

While conceptually JIT is simple to understand, in practice it can be challenging to implement. The follow interactive image illustrates the simplified steps that a port can take to implement JIT. Click on each section to find out more.  Further details can be found in the JIT Guide.

3.1. Drivers and motivation

Before implementing JIT, it is important to understand the motivation and drivers for all stakeholders, or at a minimum, for those who will play a role in the decision-making process. These drivers are likely to be linked to the benefits of JIT (outlined in the previous section).

For example, the Port of Newcastle, Australia, implemented JIT primarily due to safety reasons and to ease port congestion following a major incident in 2007. While safety and easing port congestion may be a key factor for many ports, other motivating factors are likely to be environmental or cost-related. Depending on the different drivers, relevant analysis/studies should be undertaken at a local port level to assess the potential impacts of JIT (e.g. studies on emission reduction potential through use of AIS data or on small-scale per voyage analysis, cost-benefit analysis etc.).

If the drivers and motivating factors for the implementation of JIT are well understood, and are further underpinned by studies/documentation, this will greatly support the securing of buy-in from the stakeholders who are crucial for implementation.

3.2. Identification of barriers and gaps

Once a clear motivation to implement JIT has been established and agreed, relevant actors and stakeholders will need to identify the existing barriers and gaps which will need to be addressed. In this section, we have broadly organized such barriers into the various categories:

  • Contractual – (e.g. inability of Master to adjust speed without being in breach of contractual clauses).
  • Operational:
    1. Operations and procedures – referring to the processes followed by the port
    2. Data and standards – referring to the exchange of high-quality or reliable data
    3. Stakeholders and actors – referring to the collaboration and engagement of relevant stakeholders on both the port and ship sides

The following sections provide more information on various potential barriers and some key questions that should be considered for the implementation of JIT.

3.2.1. Contracts

For some ships, particularly those under voyage charter (i.e. most bulkers and tankers), there may be contractual barriers during the laden voyage owing to the Due Despatch clause which obliges the ship’s master contractually to proceed to the next port with utmost despatch, regardless of whether a berth is available or not.

An additional complication is added when a ship carries several different cargoes. For example, a parcel tanker may carry 20 or more different cargo parcels. Per parcel, multiple parties are involved in the commercial agreements e.g. seller, buyer, broker, charterer and shipowner, and the shipowner may have different obligations to different cargo owners.

These contractual issues can be potential resolved through the inclusion of additional JIT clauses in the charterparty which would allow for virtual arrival and lay out how costs/revenues are to be shared between the shipowner and ship charterer.

Key Questions

  • What are the main ship types which call at the port? For these ships, are there contractual barriers that prevent the ships to optimize speed in order arrive JIT?
  • Could voyage charter party agreements be amended to include a JIT standard clause ?
  • Is it possible for the JIT standard clause in the charterparty contract to be passed through the sales chain like any other clause, thereby speeding up the negotiation process?
  • If JIT is to be applied, have the sharing of costs/revenues between the relevant parties been agreed upfront? Will these calculations require third-party verification?

3.2.2. Operations and procedures

It is recommended that a review of existing operational processes is undertaken to identify any amendments to procedures which may be required or may support facilitation of JIT. These may include, for example, ensuring that there is a sufficient capacity of nautical services (e.g. tugs, pilots etc.) to enable JIT and allowing for preclearance by authorities.

Key Questions

  • Does the port allow for preclearance by authorities?
  • Is there sufficient capacity of nautical service providers? Can this capacity meet extreme peaks in demand?
  • Do the cargo services always meet the ship order time? Or are there often delays where cargo operations are not completed in time?
  • Are there additional processes which can be streamlined?

3.2.3. Data and standards

One of the most vital enablers of JIT is the exchange of high-quality, accurate and reliable data between key stakeholders within the port, and with the ships – these include times of arrival, times of departure, service completion times as well as many other timestamps. Data exchange plays a critical role in the implementation of JIT and therefore, the digital exchange of data in a uniform way is of immense operational importance. This requires the use of global harmonized data standards.

During a port call, there are various types of data sets which are exchanged:

Nautical data
Administrative data
Operational data

In order to implement JIT, it is important that the nautical, administrative and operational data sets implemented are aligned with their corresponding standards. Implementation guides for each data set are either currently available or under development and can be found below.

Key timestamps for JIT

Unsurprisingly, the most important timestamps for JIT are related to the arrival of the ship. As many ships are on berth exchange, the timestamps related to the outgoing ship are important. For more information on these timestamps, please refer to the JIT Guide.

Estimated Time of Completion (ETC) – Cargo. The date and time the berth planner estimates that all cargo operations, related to the ship, will be completed.

Estimated Time of Completion (ETC) – Bunkers. The date and time the bunker barge estimates that the bunker operation will be completed.

Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) – Berth. The date and time the ship or agent estimates to depart from the berth. The ETD Berth is based on the completion time of cargo operations and all other critical services to the ship (for example bunkers, provisions, waste disposal, clearances). Note: Focus is on ETC Cargo and Bunkers as these services are critical and normally cause most delays.

Requested Time of Departure (RTD) – Berth. The date and time the port planner requests the ship to leave the berth. This timestamp is based on the ETD Berth and is a confirmed time for departure based on the availability and planning of nautical services, wind, tide, fairway conditions and planning.

Requested Time of Arrival (RTA) – Berth. The date and time the berth planner requests the ship to arrive at the berth. Note: RTA Berth depends on the RTD Berth of the previous vessel.

Requested Time of Arrival (RTA) – Pilot Boarding Place. The date and time the port planner requests the ship to arrive at the Pilot Boarding Place in order to meet the RTA Berth. This time is closely linked to overall port planning and planning of nautical services. Note: RTA PBP depends on the RTA Berth.

Key Questions

  • Are the current definitions used in the port aligned with global standards?
  • Are all required timestamps for JIT currently being used? Is this data readily available? If so, is there clarity in which systems the data is available?
  • If there are multiple systems in use in the port, are these systems connected? Can data be easily exchanged between them?
  • Can all timestamps required for JIT be exchanged system to system between the relevant parties?

3.2.4. Stakeholders/Actors

The implementation of JIT requires all parties involved in the arrival and departure of a ship to cooperate, the main actors being:

  • Authorities: These are the parties that receive information related to the port call, provides clearance to the ship’s arrival and departure. This could be, for example, but not limited to harbour master, customs, immigration, port health, port VTS, coastguard.
  • Berth planner: This is the party that plans the berth call. Depending on the organisation of the port, for example, but not limited to terminal operator, berth operator, port authority, VTS.
  • Port planner: This is the party that plans the port call. Depending on the organisation of the port, for example, but not limited to port authority, harbour master, terminal operator, VTS, pilots, coast guard.
  • Ship operator: This is the party that decides how the ship is employed and where a vessel is to call. Depending on the commercial operation conditions, for example, but not limited to charterer, ship owner, cargo owner / trader, ship manager, carrier, parties representing / acting on behalf of before mentioned parties.
  • Nautical service providers: These are the parties that provide nautical services to the ship. For example, but not limited to pilots, tugs, linesmen, boatmen, VTS.

It is suggested that the key stakeholders in a port in relation to Just in Time should be mapped, translating the Port Call Process to the local situation.

Key Questions

  • How does the Port Call Process translate to the local situation? Has this been mapped?
  • Are all stakeholders engaged and on-board? If not, are those which provide crucial data require for JIT included?
  • Do incentives need to be considered for certain stakeholders to engage?
  • If there is a Port Community System (PCS) in place for data exchange, are they involved in discussions?

3.3. Action plan

After considering the various questions above and identifying the major barriers and gaps, an action plan should be developed to address them, including timelines, necessary actors, cost implications and scope etc.

While efforts have been made to provide some general solutions in the JIT Guide, since many barriers have local causes and are owing to local circumstances, the solutions will also differ for every port.

As an example, the following steps could be used to solve capacity constraints at a service provider:

Gap identified
Scale of gap
How big is the difference between the desired capacity and the delivered capacity over time?
Reason for gap
Why does this arise? How is this expected to developed? Which factors are the basis for this?
Cost implications of gap
What costs occur as a result of this gap?
Possible solutions
Which solutions are possible and who plays a role in these solutions?
Cost implications of solution
What are the costs/investments required for the proposed solution? How could these costs be settled?

3.4. Implementation

This phase indicates the execution of the developed action plan with a view to implementing JIT.

The timeframe for implementation will depend on various factors, which are detailed in the table below.

Factor Shorter implementation time Longer implementation time
Main motivation/Driver Safety – often due to top-down approach from local/regional government. Environmental/other – due to bottom-up approach of ports/actors pushing for implementation.
Size Small port Large port
Trades Focus on containers Focus on bulk
Terminal and nautical services set up Owned by Port authority Owned by individual private companies
Digitalization status Digital mature port No digital flows in port yet
Service capacity (terminals and nautical services) Shortage of capacity – there is a need for services to implement JIT. Over capacity – there is no need for services to implement JIT.

4. Where is JIT currently being implemented?

Coming soon

6. How can GreenVoyage2050 and the Low Carbon GIA support implementation?

The Low Carbon GIA, which operates under the framework of GreenVoyage2050, has been working on the concept of JIT for the past several years, developing awareness-raising material, guidance and resources to support implementation, and undertaking studies and calculations to assess the emission reduction potential.

With the upcoming entry into force of major amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, in particular the carbon intensity indicator (CII) requirements, it is expected that more attention will be paid to port call optimization and potentially JIT as ships seek to reduce their port stays and idle time.

If you are a port authority and are keen to offer JIT for ships calling your port, and are looking for further assistance on implementation, please reach out to the GreenVoyage2050 project team to see how we can support you!

*This Information Portal is still under development and further images will be added. For suggestions and additional technologies to be included in the Information Portal, please use the GreenVoyage2050 Contact Form.

This Energy Efficiency Technologies Information Portal was developed in cooperation with DNV GL.

This webpage serves as an Information Portal for Energy Efficiency Technologies for Ships. IMO does not make any warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. View our disclaimer