BunkerMetric demonstrates bunker planning optimization strategy through release of BunkerPlanner Lite, a free-to-trial version of its BunkerPlanner optimization technology.

In the business of buying bunkers for the fleet, great individuals can reach remarkable results based on their experience, wits and intuition. However, the power of a good algorithm supported by relevant data and most importantly the relevant constraints, will in the end win on its sheer ability to perform restless calculations of all possible solutions and not biased by the old learning.

To test this point, maritime technology company BunkerMetric launched BunkerPlanner Lite, a free-to-trial technology demonstrating Artificial Intelligence qualities applicable to bunkering decision process. Finally, vessel operators and bunker desk managers can experience BunkerMetric capability to build higher quality prescriptive models using intelligent automation instead of traditional manual methods.

By signing up to access BunkerPlanner Lite, an operator is able to compare their planning skills against a computer-based planner. Great examples of a human planner beating the automated planner will be highlighted in our monthly newsletter.

What can be found in BunkerPlanner Lite?

Automatic planning. This is the big one. It is the same technology that underlies our flagship fee-based product BunkerPlanner.

Our automatic planning engine accelerates everything that an operator does to decide about bunkers. It speeds up analysis of vessel’s bunkering needs to consider common problems solved by the operator: when to bunker? what price to pay? which port to call on? what additional port costs to expect? The engine automates prescriptive modeling by employing the best machine learning algorithms to generate optimized, cross-validated prescriptions for consideration by the operator and the bunker buyer.

All that is required by the user is to enter the vessel’s IMO number, port of departure, port of destination, and bunker on board at the time of departure (RoB). Press the button to generate the plan and immediately receive e-mail link to the result.

Is the vessel already en route? No problem. Upon entering the vessel’s IMO number, using AIS coordinates, BunkerPlanner Lite identifies current position of the vessel and its sailing direction. Upon manually entering RoB from the latest noon report, the automatic planning engine takes care of the rest.

For more information, please contact BunkerMetric at contact@bunkermetric.com or go directly to https://lite.bunkerplanner.com and register to try it out. Click here to view our product infographic.

BunkerMetric demonstrates bunker planning optimization strategy through release of BunkerPlanner Lite, a free-to-trial version of its BunkerPlanner optimization technology.

In the business of buying bunkers for the fleet, great individuals can reach remarkable results based on their experience, wits and intuition. However, the power of a good algorithm supported by relevant data and most importantly the relevant constraints, will in the end win on its sheer ability to perform restless calculations of all possible solutions and not biased by the old learning.

To test this point, maritime technology company BunkerMetric launched BunkerPlanner Lite, a free-to-trial technology demonstrating Artificial Intelligence qualities applicable to bunkering decision process. Finally, vessel operators and bunker desk managers can experience BunkerMetric capability to build higher quality prescriptive models using intelligent automation instead of traditional manual methods.

By signing up to access BunkerPlanner Lite, an operator is able to compare their planning skills against a computer-based planner. Great examples of a human planner beating the automated planner will be highlighted in our monthly newsletter.

What can be found in BunkerPlanner Lite?

Automatic planning. This is the big one. It is the same technology that underlies our flagship fee-based product BunkerPlanner.

Our automatic planning engine accelerates everything that an operator does to decide about bunkers. It speeds up analysis of vessel’s bunkering needs to consider common problems solved by the operator: when to bunker? what price to pay? which port to call on? what additional port costs to expect? The engine automates prescriptive modeling by employing the best machine learning algorithms to generate optimized, cross-validated prescriptions for consideration by the operator and the bunker buyer.

All that is required by the user is to enter the vessel’s IMO number, port of departure, port of destination, and bunker on board at the time of departure (RoB). Press the button to generate the plan and immediately receive e-mail link to the result.

Is the vessel already en route? No problem. Upon entering the vessel’s IMO number, using AIS coordinates, BunkerPlanner Lite identifies current position of the vessel and its sailing direction. Upon manually entering RoB from the latest noon report, the automatic planning engine takes care of the rest.

For more information, please contact BunkerMetric at contact@bunkermetric.com or go directly to https://lite.bunkerplanner.com and register to try it out.

Is that advice best for my vessel, or best for your wallet?

“The best advice that I can give you”, said the orthopedist after inspecting my left knee, “is that you schedule an arthroscopy to trim a small amount of damaged cartilage”. He calmly continued: “We can perform this procedure at my private practice, and your insurance will cover most of the cost. We can book you for next week.”

This was some twenty years ago, and I had injured myself while lifting weights at the university gym. Although I was experiencing significant discomfort, and the doctor’s plan of action sounded fair enough, I was not at all eager to undergo a surgical procedure. So, I told the doctor that I would sleep on it and went back to my dorm room to do some research on the procedure that he was recommending.

By the end of the week, I had figured out that the doctor had conveniently omitted three rather important pieces of information from our conversation. First, that arthroscopic surgery had, back then, a roughly 50% success rate – essentially a toss-up between coming out with improved mobility or further damaging my knee. Second, that there were less invasive and potentially more effective alternatives available – physical therapy prominently amongst them. Third, that the doctor stood to earn a cool $10,000 dollars from the procedure.

I suppose that, even when a modest amount of money is involved, one can’t be too careful in checking – is that advice best for me, or best for the other guy’s wallet?

Now, when large amounts of money are involved, savvy businesses invest a great deal of effort in verifying that there is no conflict of interest when a recommendation from a third party is adopted. In the shipping business, the folks in charge of fuel procurement purchase tens of millions of dollars worth of fuel every week. They are keenly aware of the fact that the motives behind any recommendations regarding the location, quantity, or price of fuel to be purchased should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

For instance, imagine receiving a recommendation stating that your vessel should lift 800 tons of fuel at a specific port in the Mediterranean in three days. So far so good. Until you learn that this recommendation comes from a party that is controlled by a fuel supplier. Hmmm. Is it possible that they have had those 800 tons sitting there for a while and that they are eager to offload them? Is it possible that they figured prices in the Mediterranean are about to drop and want to nudge you into a commitment at today’s higher price level? Frankly, given the sums involved, such hijinks should hardly surprise us.

In order to generate fueling recommendations, a third party would need access to your commercial schedules, TC rates, RoBs, and consumption curves. Are you comfortable providing all that data to them? Providing them access to your VMS? Knowing that any of their data scientists could, with a few lines of code, extract insights about your past, present, and future operations – all to be leveraged during their negotiations with you?

When you receive a bunker procurement recommendation from BunkerPlanner, you can rest assured that there is no hidden agenda. We do not sell fuel and we do not receive commissions from brokers or suppliers. You remain in control and engage the broker, trader, or supplier of your choice. Our only business is in generating the bunkering plan that is best suited to each one of your vessel’s voyages. If you value impartiality when considering your bunkering strategy, contact us for a confidential discussion.

What is the price of milk in Oslo today?

In discussions with our customers, we are often asked why BunkerPlanner relies on bunker price indexes instead of the ‘actual’ fuel price at each port. In this blog we answer this question and explain the complexities of marine fuel pricing using a commodity most of us are very familiar with: milk.

So, what is the price of milk in Oslo today? The surprising fact is that there is no uniquely correct answer to this simple question! Are you buying one liter or half a liter? Skim, 2%, whole? Will you shop at a convenience store or at the supermarket? Are you fine to buy a carton of milk with a tight expiration date (at 50% off the sticker price)? Are you buying on a Sunday (many stores are closed, therefore you can expect to pay a slight premium)? Do you have a discount coupon? Are you purchasing large volumes as a retailer?

The bottom line: there is no such thing as ‘the’ price of milk in Oslo. That is despite the fact that tens of thousands of milk purchases are completed daily; that many retailers print their prices in leaflets and newspapers; and that the dairy industry is a well-regulated industry, prominently in politicians’ radar screens, and observed daily by hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Now let’s turn our attention to bunkers. By contrast with the milk market, this is an opaque segment where only a few dozen transactions will be completed each day at a given port. There are many additional technical complications that would affect availability and pricing, such as credit terms, weather, barge availability, minimum volumes, quality, ISO specs, energy density, long-term contracts, and berth location, to name a few. Furthermore, the segment is of little interest to the general public, and hence pricing irregularities are unlikely to generate much political blowback.

If we can’t get an unambiguous price point for milk at a particular city, how can we expect to get the same for bunkers, given the very relevant additional complexities listed above? The fact is that we can’t — the price will be revealed only in the context of a specific negotiation, when all parameters of the transaction are laid out in detail. Anecdotally, we have witnessed conference calls where one party would state that “the price of VLSFO in Las Palmas was $420 yesterday”. Another would say, “no, the price of VLSFO in Las Palmas yesterday was in fact $430”. Who was correct? Both! The different nature of their transactions means that both completed purchases for VLSFO at different prices.

When planning future purchases, it is not feasible to establish a detailed negotiation at every port where we could consider lifting fuels. If nothing else, we might find that the suppliers would stop taking our calls once they realize that we are regularly probing the market and not in fact conducting a bona fide purchase inquiry.

BunkerPlanner relies on market indexes to address the opacity of bunker prices. With these, we generate bunker procurement plans that frequently identify superior opportunities to our users. Additionally, using our APIs, users can import price lists from their preferred suppliers to supplement our extensive price feed. Last, but not least, BunkerPlanner functionality allows users to manually enter specific price points to supplement our indexes, in cases where they have fresh market information from a recent transaction.

Unlike a milk purchase, where you might overpay a few cents on a poor deal, your fleet has tens of thousands of dollars at stake on each bunkering decision. BunkerPlanner leverages a carefully curated price index library and state-of-the-art algorithms to give your fleet a competitive edge in an opaque and complex market.

Bunker Focus: Is a Voyage Management System Enough?

While your VMS is excellent at recording transaction data and costing out a given schedule, it has significant limitations as a bunker planning tool. Discover how a dedicated bunker procurement optimization module leverages the knowledge and data already present in your VMS to identify the most profitable fuel procurement strategies.

Top 4 Signs That Your Shipping Business is Ready to Profit from Optimized Planning

Bunker procurement planning is a complex task, where operators must simultaneously account for fuel prices, the vessel’s commercial schedule, regulations, and the vessel’s technical characteristics, among many factors. In addition, the  workflow and information are often fragmented between the vessel master, a bunker procurement desk, and the operators — inevitably leading to suboptimal purchasing decisions. If this sounds familiar, perhaps your organization will benefit from integrated bunker procurement optimization software.

Product brochure

BunkerPlanner is a state-of-the-art bunker procurement optimization tool. The tool generates a tailored recommendation for how much bunker of each grade to buy and where to buy it. The system factors in the most recent bunker pricing information as well as a comprehensive set of technical, commercial, and regulatory constraints. BunkerPlanner is available through an intuitive web interface or as an integration to your existing voyage management system. Download our product brochure for additional details.