News Article 14/12/2006

Looking for the optimum communication and software solution, Digital Ship & AMMITEC Athens 2006, (ELNABI, Nov 2006, p. 116)

The development of satellite and software services has been extremely increased during the last few years in the Greek shipping industry. This year's Digital Ship in Athens gave the opportunity to shipping IT executives to examine all these new progresses. The seminar opened Mr. Nikitas Nikitakos president of AMMITEC.
Mr. Adonis Violaris head of communications of Hanseatic, presented the results of a survey between Cypriot shipmanagers on how they use satcoms and software.
Hanseatic provides and uses innovative satellite services such as free crew mail to seafarers on board vessels and many other applications. Mr. Violaris pointed out that today's shipmanagers face a lot of challenges. "We understand that the maritime industry is lucrative for satellite communications and therefore needs the commitment of the providers", concluded Mr. Violaris.

Mr. Piers Cunningham head of maritime services in Inmarsat in his presentation said that over 10.000 fleet terminals have been commissioned and the new Inmarsat-4 is the largest and most powerful mobile communication satellite launched to date. It expands the life of the existing services to at least 2020. Mr. Cunning ham presented a survey conducted by Inmarsat regarding current and future communications requirements and factors influencing the purchase of new communications solution. For example, some of the purchasing factors include flexible pricing, 24 hours coverage and support on a global basis.
He also noted that Fleet Broadband IP data has reached up to 432kbps providing guaranteed data rates on demand with 64kbps ISDN that will be available globally plus voice & fax. "Inmarsat owns and controls its own satellite network", said Mr. Cunningham. He concluded that efficiency always plays a vital role in Inmarsat satellite services and this is the fundamental difference between Inmarsat and other competitors.

Mr. Tasos Makris. Information Systems director of Gourdomichalis Maritime referred to the role of IT manager, information processing and other communication-information matters. Mr. Makris confirmed that since the introduction of Mini-M IT managers spent a lot of time to handle the increased flow of information. He noted that incomplete fleet knowledge is attributed to hardware (BDE, antenna, GPS, cabling).
Is high speed a drawback? asked Mr. Makris. Yes, if you are not in full control he said. He also focused on the fear of MPD & ISDN connection due to accidental internet connection from crew/ automatic updates.
According to Mr. Makris there are still unfulfilled promises such as always on connection and remote administration. He expressed a wish list for Fleet which includes good diagnostics, training video, knowledge manual from Inmarsat, Tick list for visiting technicians, knowledge repository in www.ammitec.com.

A speaker from Dorian Hellas, expressed the commitment of Dorian Hellas to technology.
He gave the approach of small sized operators. In implementing new technology Dorian faced the following hurdles: nobody likes change, fear and anxiety of high computer literacy demands, resistance from key managers.
Modules used at Dorian include planned mainte¬nance, inventory & purchase, repair & newbuilding and many other applications. Dorian has chosen Teledata as Technology supporter which provides quick response in Greece and global. 24x7 web based support, dedicated vessel and fleet. Concluding points of Dorian''s speaker include :

  • Trend for integrated solution not just PMS
  • Continuous management support to ensure the change do not cause disillusion of the staff
  • Customers expect efficiency that in many cases only software can ensure.

Mr. Leonidas Polemis, Director of Remi Maritime referred to the benefits and the pitfalls from ITC in shipping.
Mr. Polemis expressed the following views: "Communication has always been the key to business. Hardware is important in terms of reliability and functionality while software is a flexible tool."
Mr. Polemis said that there are too many choices and expertise required in choosing the right software developer. A technology partner must fulfill criteria such as a clear up-to-date holistic understanding of technology. "Each company and individual have a way of working, therefore don't try to force change, let users take ownership" pointed out Mr. Polemis.
He advised :"Be organised and don't expect things to happen by themselves."
Regarding value gained, Mr. Polemis mentioned the following advantages: readily processed information, efficiencies in processes, time saved in mundane tasks, centralizing information providing holistic view, up-to-date information for planning, avoiding inefficiencies and reducing accidents, informed decisions, managing regulatory pressures. Mr. Polemis admitted that ISM, TMSA, ISO standards, dynamic statistics, required KPIs & Risk assessment has brought an added bureaucratic strain.
He noted that it is important no to add more documents but to know how to manage data.

Mr. Loukas Koumertas, planned maintenance support engineer of ELETSON told about implementing a computerised plan maintenance system : a generic review from the end user perspective.
ELETSON was founded in 1966 and in 1989 took delivery of its first double hull tanker (45.000 dwt). Between 1990-2004 took delivery of 25 double hull tankers. ELETSON has applied the SpecTec''s software Amos, upgraded to Amos M&P. The decision to implement a computerised plan maintenance system imposed dynamically by the oil majors requirements, noted Mr. Koumertas.
Between 1997-2003 Amos D was implemented and about 500 users were trained, computer network was installed by ELETSON's IT. According to Mr. Koumertas, lessons learned include: company's commitment was proven with action, mentality was changed to proactive maintenance.
Upgrade to Amos M&P was decided because the previous system was too poor for the requirements of the company. He stated that SpecTec gave us a thorough insight of the AMOS.
Some of the Amos benefits are: very easy to see sister vessel/sister components, friendly and comfortable user interface.

Mr. Constantinos Tomasos, managing director of Tomasos Brothers gave the user perspective. The company Tomasos Brothers operates crude oil tankers, product carriers, bulkcarriers and passenger ships. Mr. Tomasos set the following objectives in planning IT company's strategy: The people in the company had to follow the innovations without feeling excessive stress, evaluating existing organizational weakness.
Mr. Tomasos told that IT is the unique path to¬wards the future, regarding risk management, planned maintenance, bench making, increase the standard and reduce the risk, long term cost effectiveness, running costs income. Mr. Tomasos referred to common consideration on when purchasing software. These include: Common difficulties vs. software, hardware, human resources, training needs, procedural re-organisation, least impact with the existing ship and company procedures and user friendliness.
Mr. Tomasos pointed out that the software vendor must understand the routines and procedures followed up by a shipping company, flex¬ibility and adaptability.
Since there are not only PMS (Plan maintenance system) items for sudden machinery breakdown, class, PSC, vetting it is nonsense to follow a separate procedure. According to Mr. Tomasos the company's choice is Ulysses Task Assistant, which provides an integrated platform with tailor made features.
Concluding points of Mr. Tomasos include:

  • Software became essential
  • Buy PMS from experts
  • Primary factor should not be the cost of programmes.
  • Gather comments of pioneers and test program to evaluate time required to perform a data entry and if it is user friendly.
  • Prefer a common platform that can deal with non-PMS.
  • Statistics are essential for risk analysis and in general for TMSA.
  • Budget for database to be defined by experts.