IMO Alliance to Establish Just-in-Time Operations


The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (GIA) has brought together industry stakeholders to discuss the establishment of “just-in-time” operations.

According to a statement, implementing just-in-time operations to reduce the time vessels spend idling before entering the port can help the industry to cut emissions and costs.

Despite the potential benefits proposed by the GIA, there are several contractual and operational barriers to overcome before the just-in-time system can be viable worldwide.

Simon Bennett overviews the IMO greenhouse gas strategy for a sustainable future in a recent Port Technology technical paper

Container ships do not face the same contractual limitations affecting bulk carriers and tankers, allowing the vessel’s master to reduce speed and enabling the implementation of just-in-time operations.

On January 31, 2019, representatives from shipping companies, port authorities, terminal operators and service providers convened at the IMO’s headquarters in London, engaging in discussions on how to overcome operational barriers to just-in-time.



The roundtable highlighted that for ports to provide incoming ships with a reliable berth arrival time, a reliable departure time of the ship at berth also needs to be achieved, a challenge which requires the collaboration of multiple parties.

In addition to this, the roundtable asserted the need for standardized data to provide ships with regular updates about the availability of berths, especially less than twelve hours before the vessel arrives.

If ships are able to time their arrival by optimizing their speed, a further reduction in carbon footprint and savings on fuel costs can also be achieved.



Optimizing vessel speed when approaching a port also improves the safety of navigation and rest hour planning of ship crew and nautical services.

Members of the GIA, which is in the process of preparing a real-time trial for just-in-time operations, will hold another meeting later in 2019 to discuss contractual barriers.

The GIA will also submit a progress report on its work to the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), supporting member states in the effort to tackle ship emissions and reach the ambitious targets set out in the IMO’s greenhouse gas strategy.

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