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Trends in Lashing – The Impact of Latest Lashing Regulations on Vessel Operations

By: / Tue Mar 12 22:28:23 GMT 2019

Lashing has become one of the most dynamic developments in the field of compliance during the past decade. Ten years ago, when it came to lashing small ships, lashing bars that fixed containers and simple calculation models were used to ensure safe transportation. Meanwhile, the ships have gotten bigger, safety and increasingly economic aspects have become more focused as new lashing regulations released by several classification societies have put ship operators in the position to increase cargo intake on vessels for short voyages. It turns out that implementing these new rules for cargo securing systems isn't as easy as it was ten years ago.  
At the Navis Carrier & Vessel Solutions Customer Conference EMEA, which took place a couple of weeks ago at the Empire Riverside Hotel in Hamburg, experts including ship owners, liner operators, classification societies, lash makers and loading computer makers discussed trends in lashing and their impact on vessel operations.

Lashing rules: Balancing Safety and Profitability
According to Ralf Böde from Lloyd’s Register, the classification society provides solutions “to get a very good flexibility to the operators” by trying to increase the stack weights or the weight distribution within the stacks as much as possible, depending on the weather. Under pressure to be profitable in today’s competitive market, ship owners and liners need to increase the level of utilization but have to take care not to go past the point where stowage is unsafe. Lloyd’s Register is ensuring this through computer modelling and comparing it to existing, measured data. Another challenge is collaboration with various stakeholders for the latest lashing rules. DNV GL’s class notation, Route Specific Container Stowage RSCS+ has been initiated by improvement requests by CPO and Hapag-Lloyd. “We tried to include all feedback and comments given,” says Daniel Abt from DNV GL. And considering suggestions from ship owners, ship operators, lashing gear suppliers and loading computer suppliers means a work in progress.

Clear Prioritization: Safety First, Efficiency Second
“It is men, ship, cargo, efficiency – in that sequence,” emphasizes Jörn Springer, Senior Director Fleet Support Center at Hapag-Lloyd. According to him the liner would not jeopardize safety for efficiency. He does not see a conflict between safety and efficiency but regarding the impact of the new lashing rules he asks how the efficiency could be increased safely. Arto Toivonen, Naval Architect at the cargo system solution company MacGregor, suggests that the ship herself should also be taken into account: “We can do it even better, when the steel resonates in tones of new improved class rules.” Springer proposes a price tag for good operations.

Ship Owners’ Big Concern: Worsening Weather Conditions
“Why can’t you accept higher lashing forces on a voyage from Zeebrugge to Tilbury?” Questions like this are typical for the ongoing discussion between ship owners and liners. That’s why CPO wants to increase the performance of its fleet with the new changes in rules. Ortwin Mühr, Head of Nautical Department at the ship owner CPO Containerschiffreederei, pursues the goal of having a better loading and weight distribution. Applying weather forecasting rules on short routes with a narrow timeframe for cargo planning is a huge challenge. But the biggest concern from the charterer’s perspective is bad weather during a long-coastal voyage with different ports. If the weather suddenly deteriorates, the vessel will have to be restowed completely. 

Liners’ Constant Worry: The GM Shouldn’t Be Too High Nor Too Low
According to Jörn Springer from Hapag-Lloyd, the liner “takes extra efforts” by preplanning the whole rotation of a vessel and offering options to the master while underway. The GM worries the charterer the most: “Doing restows from the top tier to the lower tier would increase the GM which not in itself increases safety onboard,” Springer says. Hapag-Lloyd has had some bad experiences with high GM in the past due to restows from the top tier to the lower tier. To avoid injuries and cargo damages onboard, the liner is going an extra mile. “We should bargain in a very stable weather situation,” Springer suggests. 

Onboard the Vessel: Lashing Rules Versus Good Seamanship
“The further we go on the limit, the more we have to prevent accidents, we have to carefully analyze the real situation,” says Ortwin Mühr, CPO, with regard to weather forecasting. Hapag-Lloyd is managing this with its fleet support center: “If there are weather situations developing then we are getting towards the vessel,” Springer explains. Ralf Böde from Lloyd’s Register points out that the approach of his organization is “pretty close” to what Hapag-Lloyd is doing. The Boxmax service and notations are always using the worst area where the vessel needs to pass because it should be fit for service to pass. If the master has an operational guidance document onboard which has been demonstrated in one of the sessions by Lloyd’s Register “then we would give a very much benefit for the whole route independent of the sea area,” says Böde. This guidance document would guide the master to avoid role angle. “That means the rule development should by no means overrule this so-called good seamanship,” summarizes Daniel Abt from DNV GL.

Make It Easier onboard: Harmonize Different Systems 
For Gerald Lange, Product Manager for the loading computer system MACS3 at Navis, it is a good thing that tools with mathematical models are available onboard to calculate waves and weather forecasts and to combine this with the measurement system needed to validate the calculation. According to Arto Toivonen from MacGregor, it would be user-friendly to have only one source for reliable data. With regard to the Captain and his crew members he observes: “It has to be clear what to look at.” The liners would prefer a real-time measurement as a future vision. “How can weather routing provider and / or classifications directly and our operations use the same calculation engine?” Springer from Hapag-Lloyd asks. For him, today’s practice of transcribing an abstract of the information from one system to the other in order to find the right correction factor is not the solution of choice. 

Master the Chaos: Collaboration at an Early Stage
“The classification societies give us pieces of software that we have to integrate,” says Gerald Lange from Navis, regarding the lashing model process as becoming more and more complex. The problem for the software engineers is that each classification society provides its own software, different technology stacks and different interfaces. The software Navis gets from the classification societies “is in fact a black box for us,” Lange complains. If rules change, it makes it very difficult. He wishes to work closer with classification societies and makers of lash systems at an earlier stage. Today, according to Lange, classification societies make major decisions but with theoretical calculation. Only when it comes to integrating it into the MACS3 loading computer, “those approved cargo securing model meet real live with real live conditions.” Böde from Lloyd’s Register even suggests stopping the changes for a certain period “because it is a mess for lashing companies and for loading computer vendors.” 
Jörn Springer from Hapag-Lloyd criticizes that the approval process “drags on,” which means losing money: “Every month of delay has a price tag.” According to Lange, good communication is essential and “can accelerate rapidly the process.”

This round table discussion was a good start of communication between all involved stakeholders. The conversation will be continued at following events such as Navis World 2019, taking place between 25-28 March in San Francisco. Here Gerald Lange will host a session about container securing with Daniel Cronin from the classification society American Bureau of Shipping. Stay tuned.


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