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MAY 2012

1. DYNAMIC TRIMMING������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 4

1.1. Dynamic trimming saves fuel and the environment 4

1.2. Variations in trim 4

1.3. What is the “optimum dynamic trim”? 5

1.4. Hull shape development 6

1.5. Trimming using ballast tanks 6

1.6. Trim testing methods 7

1.7. Measuring dynamic trim 8

1.8. Dynamic trim optimization 9

1.9. Example of savings with dynamic trimming 10

2. ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECT�������������������������������������������������������������������� 11

3. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION VALUE������������������������������������������������������ 11

4. CONCLUSION���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 12

5. ABOUT ENIRAM������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 12

Trim Guide 2

10.28 kn 9.6 kn 206 m 27.8 kn / 87 3.2 MW

+2.0 +2.0

+1.5 +1.5

+1.0 +1.0
+0.5 +0.5
-0.5 -0.5

-1.0 -1.0


-2,0 High and unstable fuel prices coupled with increasing environmental -2,0

ECA regulatory pressures has led to a surge of interest in solutions bring-

ing dual benefits of reduced fuel consumption and limited damage to
03:00 06:00 09:00 the environment.
12:00 15:00Whilst 18:00
the Energy Efficiency
21:00 00:00Design 03:00
Index (EEDI)
06:00was 08:50
devised with the aim of improving efficiency of new ships at the de-
sign stage, the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) aims
to encourage best practices for fuel efficient operations as well as de-
ploying latest technological devices for existing vessels.

Optimizing trim is part of the aforementioned SEEMP’s strategic areas

DASHBOARD TRIM & LIST SPEEDfor cost effective and practical measures to increase efficiency of ships
in operation. Considered one of the most easily achievable fuel sav-
ing practices currently available and often referred to as “low hanging
fruit” ready for the picking, the technology for monitoring and opti-
mizing trim in real-time continues to gain momentum with fuel sav-
ings having now been proven. The purpose of this guide is to explore
the area of trim optimization. It will identify current trim testing meth-
ods, the direct impact of dynamic trim on fuel savings and how onshore
cost efficiencies can be made for the long term by translating real time
data into continuous benchmarks for performance improvements and
decreased emissions.


trim Noun /trim/ - The difference between a vessel’s for-

ward and after drafts, esp. as it affects its navigability

stat·ic Adjective /’statik - Lacking in movement, action, or change, es-

pecially in a way viewed as undesirable or uninteresting

dy·nam·ic Adjective /dī’namik - Characterized by constant change, activity,

or progress

Trim Guide 3



It is widely known that the optimization of trim an improve vessel per-
formance in terms of better speed and lower fuel consumption. Experi-
enced seafarers, through trial and error, have been able to identify a suit-
able trim at which their vessel is believed to perform at optimum level.

The growth in vessel size over recent years has resulted in various devel-
opments in structure and hull form. The performance of the vessel as a re-
sult has increasingly become sensitive to trim. This means that the trim of
the vessel has a direct relation to the way the vessel performs. It is there-
fore now important to identify the Realizing Efficiency Gains for Vessels in
Operation: Guide to trim (or optimum dynamic trim) at which the vessel per-
forms at its best. Measuring trim (or static trim) when it is in port is easy
and accurate. However to measure and monitor the exact trim (or dynam-
ic trim) when the ship is underway is difficult due to various factors that
influence the vessel such as speed, wind, sea state, hull deflection, water
depth etc. Only when the precise dynamic trim is measured in real time tak-
ing into considerations all of these factors can the vessel be trimmed to the
optimum dynamic trim and reap the benefits of enhanced performance.


All large commercial vessels are designed to perform optimally at a cer-
tain speed or speed range and draft. These are the design parameters
under which the vessel was initially constructed. Most vessels howev-
er, frequently operate outside the original design parameters due to dif-
fering loading conditions, routes and itineraries. To optimize the perfor-
mance of the vessel when it is operating outside the design parameters, or
within them, one needs to know the optimum dynamic trim. For any giv-
en vessel, a lack of accurate information regarding the actual trim when
at sea, including displacement, water depth and speed make it challeng-
ing to find the optimum dynamic trim. In short, there are many inter-re-
lated variables to consider when modeling the optimum dynamic trim.

Figure 1 Trim of a container vessel during various legs

Trim Guide 4

Figure 1 (previously) displays the trim of a 5500 TEU contain-
er vessel during various legs (times in port included). A negative val-
ue indicates that the vessel has trimmed by the bow and a posi-
tive value indicates that the vessel has trimmed by the stern.

Each voyage leg (indicated by green rectangles) is plotted separately. It

is apparent that the vessel was operated at different trims during the dif-
ferent legs and that the trim changes significantly during the legs.


Optimum dynamic trim means the trim angle at any particular displacement
and speed where the propulsion power used is lower than the propulsion
power used for any other trim angle at the same displacement and speed.
Operating the vessel at its optimum dynamic trim can result in the ves-
sel sailing at a higher speed and/or lower propelling power. This translates
to savings in fuel as well as other economical and environmental benefits.




Propelling 3,30%




Figure 2. Propulsion energy decomposition

Figure 2 shows a break-down of the factors affecting propulsion power on

a vessel. Whilst the majority of the power is used for propelling the vessel,
non-optimum trim accounts for a significant amount of power that is wast-
ed. This lost or wasted power could have been saved if the vessel was opti-
mally trimmed. The other factors affecting propulsion power are the pre-
vailing weather conditions of the voyage, fouling and geographical affects
such as shallow waters causing squatting. Although the optimum trim will
vary in different conditions, trimming to the optimum means that it should
be possible to find the most efficient trimming angle in any sea condition.

Trim Guide 5

As the average ship size is growing and more modernized hull designs
(i.e. especially bow and stern designs) come into play, vessels have be-
come more sensitive to trim, with the optimum trim range becoming nar-
rower. Ensuring that trim can be measured accurately becomes even
more crucial to create maximum fuel efficiency as the vessel should
know the exact trim to keep it within the narrow optimum trim range.

An effective bulbous bow modifies the way the water flows around
the hull, reducing drag and thus increasing speed, range, fuel effi-
ciency and stability (figure 3). Large ships with bulbous bows gener-
ally have better fuel efficiency than similar vessels without them.

Bulbous bows have been found to be most effective when

used in vessels that meet the following conditions:

• It is assumed the vessel will operate most of its time at or near its de-
signed cruising speed.
• The bulbous bow is at the precise depth below the water line.

Figure 3 Bulbous bow modifies the flow of water around the hull

Large vessels that sail most of the time near their design speed
will benefit from a bulbous bow. This would include cargo ves-
sels, passenger vessels, container vessels, tankers and bulkers.


It’s crucial for the officers on watch to be aware of the bunker & water
transfers onboard and the affects of this activity on the trim. Ballast oper-
ations can sometimes be carried out by another crew on watch and infor-
mation is not passed on during the watch changeover which can add to the
discontinuity causing the vessel to be operated outside the optimum trim.

Quite often there is a perception in the shipping industry that the light-
er the ship, the lesser the power required to propel the vessel effi-
ciently. However this is not always true. A vessel sailing with nor-
mal ballast at optimum trim can perform better than the vessel sailing

Trim Guide 6

just on minimum ballast. This is because the water ballast can be
used to obtain the proper immersion of the bow and stern of the ves-
sel which allows the propeller and bulbous bow to be more effective.


Optimal trim has been traditionally explored at the design stages with mod-
el (tank) testing, the results of which are validated during the delivery sea /
speed trials. The output of the model testing on various trims is summarized
in a trim chart, or matrix, showing the optimum trim for a reasonable num-
ber of speeds and drafts. These charts provide the crew with a valuable indi-
cation of the necessary trim adjustments. There are, however, some limita-
tions in the procedure, one of which is that the actual speed and draft of the
ship is not always one of those used during the tank testing, thus the need
of interpolating in the matrix; the interpolation assumes a linear variation
between the values given by the charts, and this assumption is not always
true, mainly for drafts and trims close to the bulbous bow submersion point.

Another significant limitation is the difficulty of taking into ac-

count the vessel’s deflection and effects of dynamic, real time con-
ditions like wind, as well as the effects of squatting; in other words,
the crew has no precise indication on the actual drafts of the ship
while at sea, but only know the exact drafts prior to departure.

Sometimes the challenge of scaling the data from a model test up to real
life can already introduce inaccuracies that prevent the vessel from op-
erating at optimum trim while at sea. In addition, the effect of propul-
sion is rarely taken into account in model tests. This not only modifies
the water flow around the hull but also often changes the floating at-
titude of the vessel. Moreover, determining the success of the mod-
el tests and comparing them with daily real time and full size opera-
tions can be difficult due to the lack of tools and effective feedback.

Virtual testing or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is carried out by

computers simulating the water flow around the 3D model of the ves-
sel. CFD works well to quickly evaluate changes to a design without hav-
ing to build a new model or to carry out expensive runs in the model basin;
it is therefore a good solution to either integrate the trim charts ob-
tained in the model basin or to build more detailed trim charts, thus re-
ducing the error introduced by the interpolation. The accuracy of CFD
testing is rapidly improving, even if some challenges remain mainly in
the simulation of the turbulent flow field around the stern of the ship.

The information gained from CFD testing can give a more de-
tailed trim chart compared to the one obtained through tank test-
ing, however neither of these techniques provide actual measure-
ment of trim while at sea, nor do they factor in real time external
environmental conditions experienced by vessels at sea.

Recently methods combining CFD and model test results with dynamic mea-
surements have been tested out onboard different vessel types. This kind
of approach gives the possibility to take into account both the performance
attributes as well as the actual measurement. The challenge, however, is
that as the CFD and model tests don’t take into account the dynamic factors,

Trim Guide 7

the guidance for a specific dynamic condition will be based on static mod-
eling, thus there will be a gap which will be hard or impossible to bridge.

In addition, or to complement the two different methods traditional-

ly used and described, the shipyards themselves might run some trim
tests during sea / speed trials. These are often used to give feed-
back to the methods used in design phase. Unfortunately the accu-
racy of these tests varies a lot and is limited to sparse conditions.

Static Trim Tables Dynamic Trim

Variables 2 5+
Speed, draft Speed(s), draft,
wind, sea state,
bending(s), list

Model basis Tank tests / CFD Real-life

Ongoing "full scale
sea trial" method

Feedback by No, only set value Yes, set value and

the real trim actual value

Trim accuracy Varies Minimum 5cm

Table 1 Snapshot comparing static and dynamic trim testing methods


The question remains: What is the trim during sailing? Many vessels have
draft indication systems installed at the bow, midship and stern area of the
hull. These sensors are usually quite reliable while the vessel remains stat-
ic, but once the vessel is moving the hydrodynamic flows affect the wa-
ter pressure underneath the vessel thus affecting the measured results.

The deviation in trim measurements is often overlooked using these tech-

niques and sometimes the real trim angle is a revelation as it can be way
out from the static trim. When comparing optimal trim in static conditions
with dynamic trim, Eniram has observed differences of over a meter or more.

Another surprising factor to some operators is the effect of dynamic hull de-
flection, meaning that the vessel is sagging or hogging dynamically due to
speed, sea, swell and other factors. Significant squatting results in increased
drag and changes the vessels dynamic trim. As a result, the calculated stat-
ic trim is compromised. Hull deflection is measured to be up to 70cm. Eniram
has measured up to a 90cm change in the trim of a vessel due to squatting
which in turn has a significant effect on the vessel’s overall performance.

Logging wind has also shown similar effect. From a slight tail wind to a head
wind Eniram has observed a measured trim change of around 40 cm on some
vessel types. In some circumstances, certain vessels may also have a dual
optimal trim, due to different optimals being required for bow and stern. This

Trim Guide 8

makes it even more complicated to find the optimal trim without a real time
system. Eniram has been measuring the deviations of trim between static
and dynamic trim on several vessel types and the results are as follows;

• Squat: up to 200cm
• Speed: up to 90cm
• Wind: up to 40cm
• Passenger movements: up to 7cm

Figure 4 Examples of factors affecting optimal trim and performance


Dynamic trim optimization is a method based on collection and multi-di-
mensional analysis of real-time data on a vessel. Dynamic trim tech-
nology takes into account most of the changing variables to calcu-
late the effect of trim on performance. These include hydrodynamic
forces, such as squat, propeller thrust and maneuvering rudder an-
gles. It is also necessary to include effects due to additional weath-
er conditions such as wind, rolling, surging etc (figure 5).

After taking into account the entire range of factors affecting the ves-
sel at sea, a value for the optimal trim is then calculated and dis-
played in real time. Continuous data collection, filtering and analy-
sis are used to constantly improve the accuracy of the optimum trim.

Figure 5 Eniram attitude sensors

Trim Guide 9

This is done through the automatic retrieval of data from bridge and engine
room systems, as well as using purpose-built attitude sensors (figure 6).

Since operating at optimal trim requires less power, vessel operators can ex-
pect to see substantial fuel savings as well as additional operational sav-
ings. These include better performance, less machine wear, lower mainte-
nance, and fewer spare parts required, as well as prolonged machine life.

The information the crew needs to trim the vessel accurately is given in a re-
al-time visual display which shows the actual dynamic trim at that moment
and whether the vessel is currently operating at optimal trim (figure 7).

Figure 6 Optimal trim ‘traffic light’ display on the bridge

This allows vessel trimming to be a self-guided process. It also al-

lows planning and integration of trimming as part of the nor-
mal operating procedures onboard a vessel.


A Panamax size cruise vessel had been sailing 30-40cm off the opti-
mum trim. On average, 25 cm off trim equates to 2% in propulsion pow-
er on the vessel type in question. Had the vessel been sailing at opti-
mum dynamic trim they would have been able to save 700 tons of fuel
annually*. Based on HFO at $600 per ton this equates to $420,000 sav-
ings per annum, a notable impact for just a few centimeters.

Trim Guide 10

The black line in figure 8 demonstrates the savings potential before
and after the dynamic trimming technology was adopted. It also shows
in green the amount of time the vessel spent at optimal trim. The time
the vessel was sailed at optimum trim increased to 80% from an aver-
age of 40% prior to the use of the dynamic trimming technology.

Figure 7 Optimal trim performance graph before and after DTA

Being able to quantify energy output is a crucial factor towards meeting en-
vironmental goals and proving commitment of environmental stewardship.
The breakdown of propulsion power data can be used for developing fleet
wide energy efficiencies as it can be separately used to analyze the ener-
gy usage of the vessel, such as the overall propulsion power per voyage,
per week or per month. The information provides management with a fur-
ther understanding of their fleet’s carbon footprint, i.e. the extent to which
dynamic factors such as fouling, speed and trim affect the performance and
total energy consumption of a vessel. Given that non-optimal trim over time
accounts for a significant margin of overall propulsion energy use, vessel
operators can expect to lower their fuel consumption by several percent
through sailing at optimal trim. As such, if burning one ton of fuel is taken
as producing 3.16t of CO2, the environmental impact of saving fuel is clear.


By collecting large amounts of data from various factors affect-
ing the energy usage of the vessels, it is possible to help the person-
nel both onboard and onshore to pinpoint potential areas for improve-
ment. They can, for example, monitor the power decomposition of a
vessel or compare the collective performance of the whole fleet. Fig-
ure 9 shows a week by week breakdown of the propulsion energy us-
age onboard a vessel. This information could be used to monitor en-
ergy performance across one or multiple vessels across the fleet.

Trim Guide 11

16,0 %

14,0 %
12,0 %
Fouling (approx.)
10,0 %
8,0 % Stabilizers
6,0 % Sea state
4,0 %
2,0 %
0,0 %
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
-2,0 %

Figure 8 Dynamic sea margin across a specified time period

Improving the understanding of vessels’ performance drives change

through optimized execution. This enables ship owners and opera-
tors to take corrective actions early and find the most efficient and
environmentally friendly methods for operating their fleets.

With the shipping industry under increasing pressure from high and vol-
atile fuel prices, increasing regulatory compliance costs and weak de-
mand, cost control at sea is more important than ever before. Operating
vessels at optimum efficiency is a significant way of reducing costs, im-
proving environmental performance, and increasing competitiveness. Dy-
namic trimming is a significant factor in reducing operating costs, due to
it potentially accounting for between 1 and 5 % of a vessel’s fuel con-
sumption depending on vessel type. In spite of the ever ever-changing
conditions both at sea, and in the international shipping market, dynam-
ic trimming remains a viable yet simple way of reducing costs, and al-
lows ship owners and operators to prove in tangible terms their commit-
ment to the protecting the environment, and improving profitability.

Trim Guide 12

Established in 2005, Eniram provides the maritime industry with decision sup-
port and data analytics technology that reduce fuel consumption and
emissions. The product portfolio, created by experienced seafarers and
technologists, ranges from single onboard applications to comprehensive
fleet analysis and is used by both small and large shipping companies on
vessels ranging from cruise liners, tankers, container ships, bulkers, LNGs
and ferries. These companies rely on Eniram’s technology to enhance their
vessel efficiency and operation and benefit from significant environmental
savings and enhanced information intelligence.


• Onboard applications delivering real-time guidance to maintain opti-

mum vessel performance for maximum fuel efficiency
• Fleet performance management tool to monitor and compare the actu-
al performance of each equipped vessel across an entire fleet
• Analytics services exploring the breadth, depth and velocity of the
data collected to further improve efficiencies and validate the results
of other energy saving initiatives such as propeller changes, hull
modifications and anti-fouling measures.

Visit our website or contact us to find out more about our
products and services.

Melvin Mathews
Director - Regulatory and Environmental Solutions, Eniram Ltd.

Trim Guide 13