Signol pilot project reduces tug fuel usage, saving 478 tons of CO2 emissions


Signol, a software company using behavioural science to cut fuel consumption, operating costs and emissions, has concluded its five-month pilot project with Young Brothers, the freight handling company that transports all ocean cargo between the Hawaiian Islands.

The project, the first of its kind onboard tugboats, sought to leverage big data and behavioural science best practices to nudge Captains to save fuel, thus reducing operating costs and CO2 emissions. The five-month pilot ran from June to October 2022 and was partly sponsored by Elemental Excelerator, the Honolulu-based climate tech accelerator and investor.

Enrolled Captains received personalised goals, motivational reports on their performance and impromptu notifications via email, as well as having access to the Signol web app, where they could review and reflect upon their own individual performance.

During the period Signol was in use, fuel consumption was reduced by 150 MT (39,000 gallons) compared to similar journeys made in the previous year – a significant reduction of approximately 5.45% – equivalent to avoiding the emission of 478 tonnes of CO2. The results were calculated by analysing specific weather-adjusted vessel performance, cargo weight and voyage route to reach a comparison of fuel consumption for each tug-voyage combination year-on-year.

The vast majority of Captains involved in the trial improved their performance, with the most significant gains coming from those toward the bottom of the historic performance bell curve.

The trial highlights the versatility of Signol’s solutions across all segments of the maritime industry, having already proved commercially significant savings on tankers, bulkers and container ships.

Harriet Johnson, Head of Maritime at Signol, said: “As a former mariner myself, I recognise that the behaviour of sailors on board vessels is an important and often overlooked component of vessel performance. Vessel optimisation teams throughout the industry have rightly focussed initially on the performance of the steel through the water, yet can sometimes forget the importance of engaging with and motivating the crew to be proactive around efficiency and carbon emission reduction initiatives.

“Signol offers a friendly, positive and engaging user experience unlike anything previously seen in the industry, which is why we are seeing significant fuel savings from re-energised and enthusiastic mariners.”

“Elemental has been delighted to support Signol’s work with Young Brothers,” says Gabriel Scheer, Director of Innovation, Mobility & Energy, Elemental Excelerator. “This partnership demonstrates the potential of Signol’s behaviour change technology to support freight handlers around the world in their efforts to decarbonise shipping, as well as demonstrating how behavioural nudges and carbon reductions can also result in cost savings for the company.”

The results come as the sector strives to decarbonise in line with the IMO’s 2050 strategy; and once again establishes that behaviour change alone can lead to a material reduction in ships’ energy demand and carbon emissions, whilst also lowering operational costs.