Smart Digital Solution To Facilitate Optimized Steel Coil Loading


Steel coils come in various sizes and weights, making it challenging for ship managers and operators to assess whether their vessels are suitable for a proposed shipment. DNV’s new Steel Load Planner app helps ship operators to overcome this challenge, while providing a range of other benefits, sources Dnv. 

Major Breakthrough

The launch of DNV’s Steel Load Planner earlier this year marks a major breakthrough by significantly simplifying and optimizing the complex process of steel coil loading. The innovative app – which won the IT Solutions Award at the International Bulk Awards in London in November 2023 – revolutionizes the process for customizing vessel loading plans to accommodate diverse steel coil dimensions. By enabling swift calculations for optimized cargo intake, ensuring regulatory compliance, and mitigating the risk of maritime accidents, the Steel Load Planner heralds a new era in safe and efficient sea freight operations.

Complexity Of Coil Load Distribution

Steel coils of various weights and sizes are typically loaded on wooden dunnage, with their axis oriented in the ship’s longitudinal direction. The weight of the steel coils is transferred by the dunnage onto the bottom structure of the vessel.  The force of this weight is not distributed uniformly across the tank top but is transferred as concentrated loads through the dunnage. This means that the permissible uniform distributed load information in tons per square meter (t/m 2) – as provided in a ship’s loading manual – cannot be used as a basis for determining the maximum load when carrying steel coils, making basic steel-loading methods problematic.

Previous Solutions

Prior to 2023, common industry practice has been for customers to evaluate pre-defined coil arrangements on steel coil loading tables, usually based on spreadsheets. However, this is still relatively time consuming and lacks the flexibility of calculating loading arrangements for diverse steel coils. “Our customers – mainly operating geared bulk carriers and general cargo ships that can carry steel coils – needed more flexibility as these coils come in different weights and sizes,” explains Tzeferakou. “They were looking for a solution that provides guidance on optimal vessel-loading techniques and cargo hold optimization, for diverse steel coil loads.” 

Complexity Of Steel Loading

The increasing complexity of these requirements drove the development of DNV’s Steel Load Planner – a user-friendly app that can be used to customize a vessel’s loading plan for steel coils of any size. Key to the functionality of the app is the ability to test, update and confirm tailor-made loading plans for diverse steel coil loads instantly. “The Steel Load Planner app can be used for all kinds of steel coil types. There’s no limit to the variety of steel coils you can incorporate and you can mix and match various lengths, diameters and weights as needed. Now it is also possible to have full, half or quarter tiers and even reduce the load on weaker structural members, such as the duct keel, if needed,” continues Tzeferakou. “This enables cargo planners to create custom loading plans with a high degree of flexibility.”

Before using the Steel Load Planner app for the first time, customers need to send DNV key information about the relevant dimensions and characteristics of their vessels. This is then pre-programmed into the app, saving time and effort at a later stage. With the app already familiar with a vessel’s structure, customers will then manually input the specific steel coil data for their next shipment. Using the Steel Load Planner app provides customers with instant results, saving valuable time. However, the benefits go far beyond this, mainly due to the load optimization which is facilitated by the app. 

“After entering their inputs, the app generates a report confirming rule compliance, ensuring sufficient capacity of the plate and stiffener,” explains Tzeferakou. “Additionally, the report indicates the percentage of optimization achieved. A 100% optimization signifies the best possible loading. Anything below 100% indicates reserve capacity, allowing for the addition of more coils, or a reduction in the amount of dunnage used.” 

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Source: DNV