MAN reports slow steaming research

19 Jun 2012
Container, tanker and bulk customers of MAN showed a positive reaction to slow steaming, according to the company’s survey

Container, tanker and bulk customers of MAN showed a positive reaction to slow steaming, according to the company’s survey

In late 2011, MAN Diesel & Turbo undertook a survey of its customers in the container, bulk and tanker industries, to determine their attitudes towards, and their experience of, slow steaming.

The web-based survey was based on multiple-choice questions, with the ability to add text comments. Of some 200 respondents, 149 had implemented slow steaming. 38 of these had carried out propulsion machinery modifications to better accommodate a slow steaming regime.

According to MAN, the results of the survey indicated a clear distinction between those who had undertaken retrofit, such as engine derating, slide fuel valves, turbocharger cut-out, or propeller upgrade, and those who had not. Both groups, however, agreed that the main reason for slow steaming was saving fuel. Similarly, all were agreed that slow steaming provided a useful way of absorbing spare capacity, and avoiding idling time. The two groups differed, however, in that those who had carried out engine retrofit solutions showed a significantly more positive understanding of the efficiency increases and savings that can be obtained by taking steps to maximise the return on slow steaming.

Only a small number, corresponding to 6%, were committed to slow steaming alone, at engines loads below 50%. Most combined slow steaming with operating at normal load. The tanker and bulk sectors responded that they carried out slow steaming with the majority of their fleet, while the container sector seemed slightly less disposed towards slow speed operation. Only a few operated at very low engine loads (i.e. super- and ultra-slow steaming); most ‘slow steamed’ at between 30% and 50% MCR.

Most of those who had implemented engine modifications reported that the gains in fuel economy were significantly greater than anticipated. Interestingly, from a commercial viewpoint, most shipping companies said their customers reacted positively to slow steaming, and in many cases it had little effect on rates.

The full report is available from MAN Diesel & Turbo’s PrimeServ division.

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