Owners and man- your GMDSS equipment, you’ve got things like narrowband direct

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What is really driving
ship efficiency?
Owners and managers taking part in
the discussion acknowledged that
high-speed broadband services
were necessary for efficient
shipping operations, but expressed concern that the industry was being slow to adopt new
technologies compared to other
industries and faced challenges
in its ability to define broader
technology objectives and opportunities.
According to Tey Yoh Huat,
Technical Head at Altus Shipping: “We are not utilising modern technology. The kind of
changes we’ve experienced, for
example the introduction of
FleetBroadband, are not even
half of what other industries
have seen.”
Although fellow roundtable
member Ajay Tripathi, General
Manager at MMS, agreed that
ship operators were not focusing
on future technologies to support
the changing requirements of
businesses and crews, he believed there was a repressed desire in the industry to leverage
technology better.
Now in its fifth year the
SingTel Maritime ICT Roundtable
has developed a reputation as a
forum for the frank exchange of
The prolonged downturn in
the shipping industry has led to
an increased focus on cost efficiencies and particularly those
made possible by the intelligent
deployment of ICT solutions.
However, it seems clear that ICT
and broadband in particular offers wider and more significant
advantages than merely cost efficiencies.
MITE April/May 2014
Shipping ʻis not even leveraging
current technology adequatelyʼ was
the consensus reached by a
roundtable hosted by SingTel on the
intersect between ICT and efficiency
Market situation
One key area on the exploitation
of new technology is clearly expense, at a time when the shipping industry has been
undergoing extremely challenging market conditions. Vibhas
Garg, Vice President Fleets at BW
Fleet Management, suggested:
“The market is not going to allow
any new technology because new
technology is going to be more expensive in the beginning. We are
going to continue living with the
old technology as long as we can
sustain this market.”
Captain Garg believed that
the investment in broadband will
help ships “phenomenally” and
says that linking up diagnostics
systems on LNG carriers has reduced the need for service engineer. “If I could reduce the
service engineers on the entire
BW fleet – 90 ships – we are talking about millions here. That
alone is going to pay back the
cost of this investment,” he said.
Participants agreed that adoption of new technology was not
being driven purely by compliance needs but by a need to
drive efficiency or increase the
competitive edge. “If you look at
GMDSS is ... a mandatory requirement but
nobody ever uses the thing
Alasdair Smith, SeaTeam Management
your GMDSS equipment, you’ve
got things like narrowband direct
printing telexes. That’s a mandatory requirement but nobody
ever uses the thing. And then
you’ve got a VSAT which handles
90% of your communication and
there’s no requirement to have
it,” said Alasdair Smith, Managing Director of SeaTeam Management.
Forward-thinking ship managers still have to persuade owners of the benefits of new
technology like broadband – a
process that can prove difficult –
and it was “up to ship managers
to advise owners of these benefits and the savings that come
along with it,” said Victor Wee,
Head of Shipping at Global Energy International.
Mandatory matters
Ship operators’ compliance with
new regulations could also be a
question of timing it right. According to Vijay Rangroo, Managing Director of MTM Ship
Management, some regulation
was seen as benefiting the seafarer, like the Electronic Chart
Display and Information System
(ECDIS) while the Ship Energy
Efficiency Management Plan
(SEEMP) and Ballast Water Management were considered to add
administration and costs.
Arun Ahluwalia, Fleet Director at MSI Ship Management Singapore, believed that with more
technology like ECDIS coming
onstream, “second mates are
very happy if it is implemented
on board. They don’t have to do
any chart correction.”
Tim Wilkins, Regional Manager for Asia/Pacific at the independent tanker owners
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association Intertanko, believes
that while SEEMP is mandated,
tanker owners were already looking at efficiency and commercial
viability issues because of the
hike in bunker fuel costs.
SEEPM, he said, just happened to
have come along at the same
time. Compliance is not the
driver for efficiency, but the
profit from the voyage is, added
Tey You Huat.
Since implementing broadband “we have been doing two
downloads per day on route optimisation and I can tell you we
actually saved over $500m last
year on fuel efficiency,” said
Neptune ShipManagement Services Managing Director Lee Chee
Seong. “If you can get a system
that will help you save money on
fuel in the last couple of years,
people are interested and are
willing to invest in it.”
Security alert
The use of broadband and advanced IT systems has also
raised the spectre of the threat to
shipowners posed by ‘cyber-attacks’, or possible tracking by terrorists or pirates. Although the
amount of information moving
from ship to shore is a source of
concern, connectivity could also
improve the chances of locating
a missing ship. On the reverse
side of the coin many panel
members believed security was
more likely to be threatened by
disgruntled employees.
In the event of a crew sabotaging the network, day-to-day
functions that depend on downloading data could be gone and
could take some time to restore.
While using broadband for
CCTV surveillance on ships
could provide benefits, the practice is still regarded as controversial and could result in a change
of work patterns if crew members knew they were under surveillance. Surveillance on all
ships would change the whole
maritime situation awareness
picture, security and how we respond to it.
Welfare whinge
Satellite technology obviously
has a role to place in crew welfare and training at sea, as improved communications with
their families would obviously be
of benefit. The question of
whether crew retention was bet-
mandatory but
not very useful
for routine
ter as a result of improved communications was one issue. According to Christopher Kirton,
Managing Director of Norstar
Ship Management, crews joining
ships without broadband “may
whinge for a while but that won’t
stop them from staying on board
the ship”.
Others suggested that lack of
broadband might prove a barrier
to recruitment. Broadband access
could present problems, however, crews could be less interested in working overtime when
they could watch films in their
cabins during rest periods and
might not be resting as required
under the new Maritime Labour
Different owners operate different systems as far as access to
broadband is concerned with
some selling prepaid cards to try
to recover part of the cost, according to Lim Kian Soon, head
of satellite at SingTel.
Tim Wilkins believes seafarers are not choosing which employer to work for based on
connectively issues but on
whether the employer was a
good one overall. Broadband can
also be used for distance learning
purposes although Captain Garg
mentioned that current technology was still not capable of delivering face-to-face coaching and
mentoring. Systems that reduce
the amount of paperwork will
obviously benefit overworked
MITE April/May 2014