An innovative Microsoft Excel-based shipping resupply programme has been developed by US Navy researchers in an effort to generate significant savings in fuel costs.
Developed by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) faculty, the Replenishment at Sea Planner (RASP) programme is designed to rapidly plan optimal shipping routes that allow vessels to replenish at sea, unlike legacy, time consuming and error-prone methods that are manually carried out.
NPS research associate Anton Rowe, who wrote the detailed code for RASP, said, "The Replenishment at Sea Planner (RASP) creates a schedule that minimises the distance that supply ships have to travel, and identifies routes that allow vessels to travel at speeds optimal to fuel conservation."
Navy commander Walt DeGrange said the programme features all of the customer ship schedules, supplies and ports, and quickly evaluates hundreds of thousands of possible routes before providing a schedule that gives the optimal routes in a few minutes.
"You can also do ‘what if’ schedules that take in factors like schedule changes or port unavailability and solve for these factors," DeGrange added.
Derived from a previous programme, called the Navy Combat Logistics Force (CLF) planner, RASP explores the availability of a single ship in a region to replenish several ships over a four-hour window period.
The programme features a validate button enabling the planners to analyse information and make adjustments as required, and has already been launched by the 5th Fleet in Bahrain on 05 February.
Even though final cost savings determination is several months away, the navy expects the same to run into millions of dollars.