The shipping industry is going through massive changes and challenges. Covid-19 has impacted the ship owners, where there is a accelerated push to move from manual processes to a digital and remote environment. Travel restrictions, closed ports and lock downs are preventing service personnel, technical support and crew to execute on their work and follow up their responsibilities.
Sam Chamber, which is the editor director of Asia Shipping Media, shared some interesting and insightful perspectives last month (Sam Chamber, 2020). Chamber is criticizing Reuters article (Jonathan Saul, 2020) where they indirectly is saying that remote work and virtual inspections is a waste of time, and will not lead to time savings at all. Sam Chamber add the following statement;
"As with so many parts of shipping, the coronavirus has sped up digital ways of doing surveys and it will, I imagine, continue to be an important way of auditing a vessel even when the pandemic recedes."
Chamber also points out how the ship's crew and captain increasingly are walking around on a vessel with a phone camera to determine the ship's condition, issues and project progress.
Technical projects can be outsourced to third parties and inspections can be done by the crew or the captain. Yards can collaborate on cloud based platforms - the same with for example the procurement department - or others on different locations.
In VesselMan we believe in following a set of standard processes to streamline and make the work as efficient as possible, as well as easy to delegate both internally and externally. Having standard processes (what is also called a Masterplan) for how to complete tasks with detailed descriptions is then very important. The Masterplans are established to make it easy for the superintendents, the fleet manager and the management. In these times, we have seen that following a set structure is also relevant for a third party to conduct and execute the work with real-time tracking, while the superintendent is being forced to work from home/can not be present.
The Masterplan is prepared in close cooperation with the ship owner, so their own standards process is the base on how they complete a project. This means that the whole fleet will consist of the same structure when it comes to planning projects, tracking progress and of course - reporting.
Again - shipping is changing, and the most important resource will be technology together with human impact. The industry will probably always be pretty conservative, but innovation is happening reluctantly when standing above serious challenges - like we are today.
By Lene Normann Olsen
Sam Chamber (May 2020). Remote surveys are here to stay.
Jonathan Saul (May 2020). Pandemic forces virtual safety checks for oil tankers. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-shipping-tankers-inspections/pandemic-forces-virtual-safety-checks-for-oil-tankers-idUSKBN2322EF)