The sooner we know what the ship will be carrying, the more opportuity we have to adapt it accordingly.

With ten monthly sailings and employing some of the biggest and most modern RoRo vessels and Large Car & Truck Carriers in Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics’fleet, the Round the World trade offers a reliable ocean service that covers the major hub ports from Europe to Oceania, via the Americas and Africa.

Venture asked vessel planner Niklas Lodén how his team manages the continuous stream of cargo on board these giant vessels as they make their way around the globe.

“To ensure the safe, timely delivery of cargo, the loading, stowage and discharge of the vessels at each port needs to be carefully planned,”explains Lodén, a vessel planner at WWL’s Stockholm office in Sweden, who handles the Round the World (RTW) route from Europe.“ This is a delicate process and it’s up to us to work out which units to move where and in what order.”

WWL employs a total of 20 vessel planners ati ts offices in Europe, the USA, Asia and Oceania.They work closely together to make sure that the space on board is being optimally utilised, as the 60 vessels in WWL’s fleet make their journeys along their regional and RTW trade routes. Asthe job requires an intimate understanding of the work on board, it is common for vessel planners to have sea-going experience. While some, such as Lodén, are Master Mariners, others have worked as stevedore, foremen or cargo superintendents. This experience helps the vessel planners consider important factors such as the balance and trim of the vessel, which have a direct impact on its stability and fuel consumption. However, for all this to run smoothly, it is vital that the planners have access to timely, accurate cargo information.

“The sooner we know what the ship will becarrying, the more opportunity we have to adaptit accordingly,” says Lodén. “ Moreover, WWL may choose to allocate a particular vessel to a specific customer need, providing we have sufficient time in which to plan. By contrast, last-minute cargo or cargo booked with inaccurate dimensions could be forced to wait for the next sailing, if it does not comply with the weight or height restrictions on a particular voyage.

5 tips from the vessel planner
Provide the correct dimensions and weight for your cargo. This is especially important for heavy and large equipment. 
Book your cargo in good time.
Make sure the cargo arrives at the port on time.
Follow WWL guidelines for crated/boxed cargo.
For advanced equipment, provide clear instructions on how to start and manoeuvre. 

Stowage Planning System
WWL’s vessels are planned on the basis of booked cargo, using an advanced drag-and-drop programme called the Stowage Planning System (SPS). As WWL’s vessels have up to twelve decks, the vessel planner uses the SPS to evaluate the cargo, based on its weight, height, length and width, after which the booking can be “dragged” to the optimal deck. Together, the SPS and vessel stability programme enable the vessel planner to maximise the use of space, while optimising the distribution of weight to keep fuel consumption to a minimum.