Composition of the fleet is a major strategic decision that most shipping companies are making based on qualitative evaluations and the gut-feeling of experienced analysts. The MARFLIX project will establish also quantitative methods for analyzing such decisions, and hence improve the decision support for the investors.
Fleet size and mix - a fundamental decision
What a fleet should be composed of in terms of size and mix is a core decision for all shipping companies. In any given market situation, the number of vessels (fleet size) and the variety of vessel types (fleet mix) will determine the profit potential for the company. Operational optimization in terms of capacity utilization can only be done within the bounds imposed by the available fleet resources. History has shown that being positioned with the right fleet is even more important for profit than operational excellence, and that the most successful companies are those who are able to manage both.
The MARFLIX project
In January 2010, a four-year research project called MARFLIX (MARitime FLeet size and mIX) was launched by MARINTEK, NTNU and DNV, with financial support from the Research Council of Norway. The project aims to develop and test methods for improved support for fleet size and mix decision-making. This will be done by combining analytical techniques and methods from various disciplines that are relevant for such analyses.
The project includes two PhD and two Post-doc scholarships at NTNU in addition to a significant industry case-related research activity at MARINTEK. A world-leading Ro-Ro shipping company, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), joined MARFLIX as an industry partner in 2010, and has supplied the project with excellent industry cases and experience.
Illustration on top: Fleet size and mix decision making