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Case Study: A Pilot to Optimise Port Visits for Ships



Safetytech Accelerator recently collaborated with the Algeciras Bay Port Authority (APBA) to pilot Awake.AI’s technology solution to improve vessel arrivals predictability and support decision-making for expected port calls. The collaboration was part of Safetytech Accelerator’s Waypoint programme, which connects maritime organisations with a curated cohort of vetted, cutting-edge technology start-ups. These start-ups provide innovative solutions to address key operational challenges. The 4th edition of Waypoint focused on Nearshore challenges such as helping minimise human error, supporting safer navigation, reducing turnaround time and preventing accidents.

Awake.AI was selected to join Waypoint as part of a cohort of three winning technology partners. Awake.AI was chosen for this pilot because of their Smart Platform that can optimise maritime processes including port calls for visiting ships.


Pilot Goals and Objectives

The primary goals of this pilot were to analyse the impact of precise and reliable Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) predictions for vessels approaching the Port of Algeciras. This includes improving real-time situational awareness to foster Just-in-Time arrivals, optimizing port call planning, enhancing operational efficiency and safety during approaching manoeuvres, reducing CO2 emissions, and decreasing vessel turnaround time at the port.


The Challenge

In maritime logistics, ports typically serve incoming vessels on a first-come-first-serve basis where ships hurry to port often to find that berths or services are not available. Ships sail at high speed to the vicinity of the port, and then wait hours, days or even weeks for berthing. This causes high CO2 emissions, safety risks and financial loss.

Figure 1: JIT concept


Figure 1 Description: The infography conceptualizes the Just in Time (JIT) concept, in which a vessel sails to a port with the least amount of bunker fuel consumed, from optimizing its speed, and still arriving in time to the port with berth and/or technical-nautical resources’ availability.


Vessel Distance from Port During Final Stages of Voyage

Figure 2: A vessel’s position just before it berths.


Figure 2 Description: The chart shows the distance of a specific vessel from port during the final stages of its voyage. The vessel approached the port only to find that no berths were available, so it drifted outside the port anchorage area, considering that no other services may have been utilized during the waiting period. After approximately 2 days, the vessel was finally able to berth.

Timely updates between Port Authorities, terminals, shipping lines and agents during these last hours are crucial for efficient port calls. However, in practice, if something changes at the last minute, the vessel often does not have enough time to respond. Obtaining accurate and reliable predictions of the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of vessels to ports’ proximity points, jointly with a real-time monitoring of vessel’s position during its voyage, provides greater visibility and future space for port call optimization. Thus, waiting times can be reduced considerably through more efficient data exchanges between the cooperating parties. Better planning and communications reduce uncertainty, enable vessels to sail slower to port, foster Just-in-Time (JIT) arrivals, and thus enable reduced fuel consumption and congestion at ports.


The Pilot

The pilot was conducted during the first half of 2024.  Awake.AI extended their platform for APBA by developing custom analytics services to provide real-time situational awareness and decision-support features for expected port calls.

Since the project used global vessel data (AIS positioning + detailed ship data) to obtain vessel ETAs, the AI-tool also leveraged the exploitation of this data to encompass emission computations for holistic vessels’ operation, to estimate fuel consumption and emissions to deliver environmental impact awareness of port activities, waiting times, and related JIT optimisation potential.


Technical Implementation


Custom cloud computing services and APIs

  • Continuous updates for incoming vessel traffic to Port of Algeciras, on:
    • Estimated Times of Arrival (ETAs) to the pilot boarding area (close to which vessels wait for port entry).
    • Estimated CO2 emissions for the remaining voyages of the arriving vessels.
    • Actionable potential for reducing congestion and emissions.


  • Weekly automated analytics reports on detailed port area usage and related emission estimates
    • Detailed logs of actual traffic events.
    • KPIs for identifying specific areas and vessels with most potential for optimisation.
    • Quantifying savings potential.



All technical components planned for the project were implemented successfully. The custom APIs were integrated with APBA systems, providing the requested data automatically for potential utilization in port planning and just-in-time optimization. A test period of several months was used for reviewing the service operation, providing test data logs to examine service performance.


Realtime APBA Dashboard Developed During the Pilot

Figure 3: Realtime APBA dashboard developed during the pilot


APBA was responsible for leveraging the data exploitation, gathered through the custom cloud computing services, by building an in-house comprehensive dashboard for vessel traffic monitoring.

Beginning with the data integration from different port IT systems, such as the Port Management System (PMS), different functionalities were deployed to track expected port calls, identify early and late arrivals, waiting behaviours and analyse vessels’ speed profiles and voyage patterns. Additionally, KPIs were built to assess ETA predictions deviations, according to schedule, depending on operational facilities, vessels type and other parameters.

Estimation of JIT potential for Algeciras

The developed capabilities enabled the evaluation of current arrival cases with actionable opportunities for reducing waiting times. Considering that no changes occur to existing port operations or scheduling and that no other service may have been performed during the waiting period, the analysed port calls, during the test period, showed that certain port calls had some potential to develop JIT arrivals, thus minimizing waiting times and emissions.

The accuracy of the ETA predictions was also observed to have improved during the pilot. Once the Machine learning models have been updated with all the test data, the accuracy is expected to increase by up to 7%.


“Developing the pilot services with Port of Algeciras was a highly useful and positive experience for Awake.AI. The port had a clear vision for the technical service requirements, and good capabilities for implementing required system integrations, making the development a smooth process. Furthermore, this project offered Awake.AI valuable learnings about the characteristics and analytics requirements of a very active port serving multiple vessel traffic categories.” – Jussi Poikonen, Awake.AI



Industry-Wide Impact

In ports that boast good maritime connectivity and operate different port traffic such as Algeciras, implementing such optimisation requires

  • Digital tools to facilitate automated monitoring of vessel schedules
  • Identification of cases where potential for optimisation exists
  • Synchronising and communicating optimised schedules
  • Measuring obtained benefits through relevant KPIs


The Awake.AI services tested in this pilot enabled such functionality and can be expanded to work as part of operational planning systems and processes to enable JIT optimisation.


“Results so far have delivered the means to understand how this type of solution could be tailored to the particular case of the Port of Algeciras, covering several port traffic categories, and how to manage overall vessel arrival predictions during sea voyage navigation. Together with Safetytech Accelerator and Awake.AI, we have explored an AI-based tool for real-time situational awareness and predictability for vessels arrival, that could support, in the future, operational decision-making in order to foster JIT schedule optimisation. Open innovation and collaboration are paving the way to implement digital solutions in the port-maritime industry” – Jesús Medina, APBA


JIT schedule optimisation is one of the key focus areas identified by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. Awake.AI is seeing continuously increasing interest in the global shipping industry for implementing such systems to realise the emission reduction goals set by the IMO.



The pilot project between Safetytech Accelerator, APBA, and Awake.AI successfully demonstrated the potential for optimising port visits through advanced data analytics and real-time situational awareness.  The positive outcomes from this pilot highlight the feasibility and benefits from implementing, in future development stages, Just-in-Time (JIT) arrivals in ports, paving the way for broader adoption across the maritime industry. This collaboration sets a precedent for leveraging digital solutions to drive efficiency and sustainability in port operations, aligning with global initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more Safetytech Accelerator case studies here.


About Algeciras Bay Port Authority (APBA)

Algeciras Port Authority, located at the Strait of Gibraltar, is the first Spanish and fourth European port in terms of total cargo. With more than 110,000 ships/year crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and 7,500 ha of deep and sheltered waters, Algeciras is promoting a one-stop-shop port concept for vessel services (bunkering, repairs, ship supplies and others).

We consider innovation as the key element to foster competitivity enhancement and value creation, therefore, our Innovation Strategy sets the following mission: to transform the Port of Algeciras Bay into a world leader in innovation and technology; by implementing the concept of the Next Generation Algeciras Port (JIT, Smart and Green) and consolidating a port-logistics innovation hub, based on open digital innovation, technology and talent. And results prove so, since we have been designated, 4 years in a row, the most efficient European port, according to the Container Port Performance Index developed by the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Awake.AI is a Finnish optimisation platform company whose solutions are focused on developing customised AI/ML models to optimise cargo flow through the ports, reduce waiting times and emissions. Awake’s AI-driven Smart Port and Shipping Platform is developed to bring together all maritime actors at sea, ports and land, making port operations more efficient, safe and sustainable. For terminal operators we optimise port calls with AI insights, for port authorities we maximise the use of their existing port capacity, for ship operators we enable JIT arrival and faster turnaround times and for cargo owners we bring full transparency to cargo flow in sea-port-land. The company delivers a holistic AI-driven software platform, ML APIs, prediction and optimisation models, Smart Port as a Service application, Berth planning solution and Smart Port Marketplace.

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About Safetytech Accelerator

Safetytech Accelerator, established by Lloyd’s Register, is the first fully dedicated technology accelerator focused on advancing innovation in safety critical industries. Our mission is  to make the world safer, more resilient, and more sustainable through the wider adoption of technology.

Waypoint is Safetytech Accelerator’s programme to accelerate cutting edge technology companies into the maritime market. Through expert mentoring, equity-free pilot funding, and carefully selected introductions, Waypoint assists some of the most innovative and promising maritime startups to strengthen their foothold in maritime.



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