New co-operation on sea routes

At sea, the shortest route isn't always the quickest. Waves, winds and currents are all significant factors when the skipper sets the course. SMHI is now working with one of the worlds largest service companies in shipping - GAC - to sell the Weather Routing service.

The first GAC shipping agency was started in the Persian Gulf in the 1950s by the owner of Nyman&Schultz.Today GAC is a total supplier of shipping agency services, logistical services and more to the global shipping industry. The company has some 8,000 employees at 260 offices in 40 countries.

Svante Andersson, head of sales at SMHI Shipping, is very pleased with the co-operation:

"GAC is very well established and has a good reputation in the shipping industry. The company will open doors for us, and all their marketing managers will be promoting our products globally. The majority of our Weather Routing customers may already be foreign shipping lines, but we do not have sufficient resources alone to continue expanding on the foreign markets."

As an initial `pilot project´, GAC and SMHI have now employed a former sea captain in Singapore who will focus exclusively on selling the Weather Routing service.

The Weather Routing service provides support in determining the optimal course for a ship to take. It takes into account factors such as wind, waves and currents, as well as the vessel´s characteristics, speed resources and type of cargo. Apart from finding a quick, fuel-efficient route, the skipper must also consider the safety of the cargo and ensure it does not get damaged during the voyage.

All such calculations and results were previously produced at SMHI, but SMHI now sells a system that can be installed on-board. All forecast data are delivered by e-mail via satellite.

The information includes graphical presentations of possible routes, as well as speed and fuel consumption calculations. Other services SMHI is offering in collaboration with GAC are Fleet Web, in which shipping lines can monitor vessel positions, and the Post Voyage Analysis evaluation system.

SMHI began offering this type of service in the 1980s. Shipping lines were looking for more reliable information than their suppliers at the time could provide. The first customers were in Sweden and Norway, but today they can be found worldwide.

"Routing is more important on the oceans than anywhere else, so this is where our services can best be deployed," Svante Andersson concludes.