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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Shipping reaps the benefits of IT and communications investment

Wed 20 Apr 2016 by Martyn Wingrove

Shipping reaps the benefits of IT and communications investment

Shipowners and managers continue to invest in updating their IT and communications networks – but are they reaping the benefits? The answer from the shipping companies interviewed for the latest issue of Marine Electronics & Communications and the supplement Complete Guide to Ecdis 2016 is Yes. Norbulk Shipping explained the reasons for upgrading their IT systems into a cloud-based integrated management system in the April/May issue of MEC, and its reasons for deploying ecdis on tankers.

Norbulk Shipping UK’s general manager and director Walter Woodage told MEC that the paperless system enables travelling superintendents to view digital documentation from ships on their own mobile devices from anywhere with an internet connection. The company has received positive feedback and is now rolling out the cloud-based system to the ships it manages. Norbulk Shipping UK quality assurance and safety manager Mark Myles explains that the benefits of installing ecdis on the tanker fleet is to reduce bridge team administration and improve navigational safety.

Asian offshore support vessel owner Pacific Radiance is also seeing the benefits of updating its fleet management systems. It is deploying software from UniSea for health and safety, quality assurance and fuel monitoring, and other applications. Pacific Radiance finance director Loo Choo Leong said investment in the software gives the vessel operator a competitive edge in a market that has recently become highly competitive due to low oil prices. He said implementing the software increases safety, enables more operational efficiencies and improves standards. It removes an administration burden from seafarers enabling them to concentrate on improving operations in the tough offshore conditions they encounter.

A number of tanker owners, including Maersk Tankers, Veritas Tankers and Ektank, have also upgraded their IT and communications networks. They are using satellite connectivity to enable remote management of onboard ICT systems. UK-headquartered ship operator Carisbrooke Shipping is also reaping the benefits of installing ecdis on its fleet of specialised dry cargo carriers. Fleet technical director Martin Henry said the main benefits were greater navigational safety, no voyage delays for chart ordering and delivery, quicker completion of passage plans, no time wasted on chart updating and less risk of issues with port state control. He said it makes the job of bridge teams easier and helps with crew retention.

Passenger shipping is also benefitting from upgrading IT and communications systems. We reported this week on that Costa Cruises was updating its IT communications across the company’s offices and fleet using Italtel technology. This is enabling the use of voice over IP (VoIP), integrated communications and more online messaging tools.

The benefits of updating onboard IT and communications networks and installing the latest electronic navigation equipment are clear and described in the latest MEC and Complete Guide to Ecdis 2016 publications. It is pleasing to see more shipowners, managers and operators are taking the plunge with IT investment to improve their operations.

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