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Logistics-based Ship Design

LOGBASED develops methods/tools to provide designers, shipbuilders and ship operators with better guidance to develop effective ship designs for business opportunities relating to intermodal transportation solutions. Four ship designs will be developed on this basis and measured for their competitiveness.

Tags: Multimodal


Waterborne transport has historically transported goods from quay to quay without focusing much on the intermodal aspects. This situation is changing: focus is shifting towards door-to-door transport and ship operators are increasingly adapting to this new mode of working. It is anticipated that waterborne transport services must continually improve their service levels but at the same time improve competitiveness by reducing cost levels of operations every year. The customers require the goods to be transported ‘all the way’ and have certain demands regarding time, price, flexibility, reliability and frequency. These logistics requirements are considered by transport customers when buying services. Short-sea shipping has great potential to be the main part of competitive intermodal transport solutions, provided co-operation with other transport modes can be fulfilled, as shipping, more than other transport modes, is able to fulfil tomorrow’s (sustainable) demands regarding costs, safety, environment and quality.

In order to exploit this potential, new knowledge, solutions and approaches on managing and transporting intermodal cargo flows must be developed. To be successful, a total service must be delivered to the customer in the form of door-to-door transport, as well as administrative and financial services related to the transport operation. Seldom is vessel performance (speed, costs, regularity, flexibility, safety, etc.) within the intermodal supply chain assessed and benchmarked, as vessel design is, in many cases, currently conducted as a sub-optimal and decoupled task in a technical department/shipyard isolated from the business development and logistics department.


The LOGBASED approach will change the current situation in business development as described above, and make transport system and ship design development an integral part. It is argued that only through this approach can the most effective solutions be identified and developed.

The main aim is to develop RoRo vessels and enable the motorways of the sea to become more competitive towards their road/rail equivalents. To accomplish this aim, LOGBASED has developed methods and tools based upon a systems theory, which provide decision-making support to the development team and/or decision-makers. The method and tools are developed based on the following objectives:

  • identifying the principal requirements and variables influencing the development of a viable intermodal transport business
  • capturing the principal ship design and shipbuilding variables, as well as their inter-relationships
  • mapping the commercial and technical aspects in a logistics-based design methodology and developing a supporting software tool to facilitate its application
  • applying the developed method and tools for selected business cases (intermodal transport systems) in order to verify the approach through the design of more efficient RoRo vessels.
Wilson Star operated by Wilson EuroCarriers. This ship and route are used as a benchmark for the transport system and ship design being developed in one of the cases.
Wilson Star operated by Wilson EuroCarriers. This ship and route are used as a benchmark for the transport system and ship design being developed in one of the cases.

Description of work

The systems management approach adopted in LOGBASED is used to develop a common platform, in the form of a decision-making support system, to develop dynamic intermodal transport solutions and their pertinent ship designs.

The approach is novel and functions as a key means to transfer logistics information into a readily usable format for end users (ship owners and designers). It is argued that this approach leads to the design of better ships – serving the cargo owner and ship operators better than solutions of the past. LOGBASED focuses upon developing more efficient RoRo vessels as an integral part of dynamic intermodal transport chains based on the utilisation of the methodology. However, the approach and method are generic by nature and can be applied to most ship and cargo types.

The project is aiming for improvements of up to 30% for various transport system performance parameters for the resulting ship designs. The method identifies the requirements/expectations, which should be targeted for the particular case/transport system in question, and focuses upon developing a ship design matching these requirements/expectations. Such requirements/expectations may be technically related (resistance, stability, etc.); commercially related (costs, reliability, frequency, etc.); strategically related (market position, growth, etc.); and/or related to health, safety and environmental issues.


LOGBASED has developed a logistics-based ship design methodology for nine different modules dealing with: business concept definition, performance expectations, competitive position, risk assessment, transport system and design solution development, decision-making support, ship functions, ship systems and performance evaluation. This methodology can support a business development process more effectively and can drive out uncertainty more robustly in related design decisions to be made. Decision-making support is provided to the users through the methodology.

The final products from the project are four ship designs serving as integral parts of dynamic intermodal transport chains. These designs will be measured for their performance against stakeholders’ expectations/requirements and towards other/existing systems or designs.

The preliminary experience using the LOGBASED methodology in designing ships is that it provides a structured and systemic approach in order to develop concept/basic/preliminary ship designs for the operation in intermodal transport systems.

Supporting tools are being developed and utilised within the different modules of the method in order to make it more efficient and less error-prone.

Tor Magnolia operated by DFDS Tor Line. This ship is used as a benchmark for the ship design being developed in one of the cases.
Tor Magnolia operated by DFDS Tor Line. This ship is used as a benchmark for the ship design being developed in one of the cases.
DFDS Tor Line