News Article 15/03/2007

OSG's IT for tanker safety (Digital ship, Jan-Feb 2007, p.1-4)

15/03/2007 - Digital ship, Jan-Feb 2007, p.1-4

CAPTAIN PANOS Hatzikyriakos, head of safety, quality and environment with tanker company OSG, talked about OSG's approach to quality, and some of the systems it uses, at a conference about Tanker Management Self Assessment (TMSA) organized by Digital Ship's sister magazine Tanker Operator in Athens. TMSA is a new scheme being introduced by oil companies to encourage tanker companies to introduce various safety related measures, several of which have strong IT components, such as planned maintenance systems, condition maintenance, sophisticated safety management and monitoring systems and electronic charts.
In accordance with the TMSA indicator "management commitment is clearly defined in documentation that includes mission statements, policies and procedures", OSG has a DVD explaining what the company wants to achieve. OSG's CEO and head of shipping regularly visits the vessels. "That's a huge task - we have 130 vessels," he said.
The company says it is pioneering efforts to develop software to measure seafarers'' competence.
OSG spends "an eight digit number" [over $10m] every year on crew training. "The amount of training I got in four years is the same amount today's seafarers get in two years," said Capt. Hatzikyriakos. There is a very tough formal induction process for new seafarers.
Seafarers and shore staff are encouraged and supported to take higher education courses to improve their value to the company and their possibility for promotion within the organisation, he said.
Software Systems OSG also has software to calculate work rest periods.
"We are very strict about working hours," said Capt Hatzikyriakos.
"Captains can stop the vessel when resting hours would otherwise go above the limits. If there is any deviation the office is notified immediately. There is no issue of crew fatigue."
The company has two or three seafarers working in the company office at any time, as specified in TMSA. "The knowledge they pass when they go back to the vessel is so valuable," he said. "It's one of the best things that the TMSA introduces."
OSG is currently looking at different software tools for root cause analysis.
"There's a lot in the market," said Capt Hatzikyriakos.
On the issue of risk assessment, OSG initially was not receiving enough risk assessments, but now it has so many risk assessments it doesn't know what to do with them.
"We try to identify trends and changes to our management performance," he said.
The biggest resistance from TMSA came not from old Greek or English captains, which are often expected to be resistant to change, but from young educated professionals. "People with two degrees  they thought they knew better than anyone else," said Capt Hatzikyriakos.
One gripe is that safety is often considered to be the safety manager's responsibility, not the whole company's responsibility. "Sometimes I feel that we are alone in this problem. This is the problem of all modern shipping companies," he said. "We''ve been through the TMSA audits. Why do I have to fly to New York when there's an audit over there? Why don't operations people have any ownership over it themselves?"

Captain David Stockley, Stealth Maritime

Also speaking at the conference, Captain David Stockley, chief operating officer of Stealth Maritime, admitted to being highly sceptical about TMSA when it first came out. But, after being involved in implementing it at both General Maritime
Management and Stealth Maritime, has come to see it as a very good tool.
"TMSA is one of the best guidelines ever written," he said. "It's the oil majors'' opinion of best practices. As a guideline, it helps you define your steps to improvement. Only a fool would say TMSA is not a benefit." Captain Stockley was uncomfortable about the amount of software and consultancy services being pushed on the basis that it is required by TMSA, not on the solution it provides.
He was asked if he thought software in the hands of a good user could be a useful tool.
"You should have said correct software," he replied. "If I had a dollar for everyone who has offered me a CD-ROM I would be really rich."
"You have to worry about software for software''s sake - if it's not needed. It will have to be about what we need and not what someone thinks we need. Very rarely does anyone ask you what you want."
Captain Stockley said that it isn't true to say, as other tanker companies have done, that there is no extra workload involved with a TMSA implementation. "If your company did not have an environmental policy, and they want to be level 2, I defy anyone to say there is no extra workload,"
he said. "I would like to know any quality department that has not grown in the last 2 years. For a company that did not have anything in place before, to put a fully integrated shipmanagement software in place, you don't let a lot of change from $300,000."
The concept of KPIs is often misunderstood, he added. "They are a useful tool to measure and improve. If you do think about it, KPIs are a good tool. But you need to think, do we really want to do this, or is it a bureaucratic exercise without any benefit at all. A lot of KPIs put in place have been done for the sake of it." Captain Stockley said that one time, when working as an oil company vetting inspector, he went onboard a ship, which had a checklist on the bridge ready for the inspector called ''checklist for running aground''.
"This is an example of how the industry has gone stark raving bonkers," he said. "It should have said ''captain, don't do it''."
"We have an industry that relies more on manuals, and I don't know what the end is. If a master runs a ship aground, would he know what to do without picking up a checklist? I don't know, but I don't see things being answered by software and checklists."
Since TMSA was introduced, Captain Stockley has been involved in two implementations, working as operations director of General Maritime Management, managing one of the world's largest tanker fleets, and then as chief operating officer with Stealth Maritime, which has 4 aframaxes and 1 VLCC, with a further 28 LPG vessels under commercial management.
Experience Captain Stockley's main gripe was that today's seafarers do not have the same level of experience as the seafarers of twenty years ago, and are too reliant on manuals and checklists. However, he admitted he did not know what the solution was.
"We're dealing with the results of what the people who ran the industry before us did 25 years ago," he said. "People started to outsource where they get the seafarers from. Now they have to live with that. We have lost a group of well travelled seafarers with the sea in their blood, through their experience and training would know what to do if the ships runs aground."
Captain Stockley said he did not believe that training could solve the problem of a lack of experienced seafarers.
"Training without experience is nothing. You can train my grandmother but she can't drive a ship," he said.
As master of a VLCC before ISM, ISPS and TMSA came along, Captain Stockley said he thought at the time he commanded a good ship with an excellent shore team, without any of these management systems to help him. "Now we are breeding a new breed of seafarers who have stopped using common sense," he said.
"Most people still at sea would consider themselves sceptics. We've been burdened by bureaucratic processes, spelling out what we used to call good seamanlike practices. I would say, for each change there has been a cost, and I don't think only a financial one."
Whilst the most common root cause of accidents is failure to follow procedures, conversely you could say that the more procedures that are put in place that are not relevant to the job you''re doing, the more likely they are to actually contribute to having an accident, he added.
Captain Stockley was asked how to ensure seafarers use common sense, particularly when a lot of accident prevention comes down to doing the right thing when an unusual event occurs. It could be said that dealing with a grounding in the best way involves a lot of imagination.
"We should call it uncommon sense," he replied. "The more I get involved in ships, it amazes me what I see and hear, supposedly from competent people. Anyone who has tried to get competent ship staff will know what I''m talking about."

Claus Holm, TESMA

Claus J Holm, director safety and quality, TESMA, said he did not think it was possible to run a shipping company on paper any more. "We are getting to the point where seafarers spend most of their time doing administration work," he said. "We use ShipNet for accounting and purchasing, Synergie for quality, and Ulysses for documentation and control of our ISM system."
Mr Holm said that one of the effects of TMSA so far is to create bigger commercial implications of decisions which are made about safety, so shipowners and commercial managers give more attention to safety issues, so it has a higher company priority and bigger budget.
"I think it's a lot about giving information to the commercial people - what are the consequences of the actions they are looking for," said Mr Holm.
People realise quickly that seafarers, and how the company treats them, are the main factors in how well the whole company performs, he said. This applies both in attracting crew and persuading them to build up experience working on ships, rather than leaving as soon as they can for more attractive shore jobs.
"What is the most important part of shipmanagement? I think everybody is in agreement, quality crew is hard to get," said Mr Holm. "How do you see the crew? Are they well treated and appreciated? Is it quality you want to run your dear multimillion dollar investments? Are we investing in the crew? Do we give them what they want?"
"Or is it as cheap as possible? Do we say it''s a cost and if the crewmember leaves, we lose all the money?" he asked. "Do we use them as cattle, and say, ''next''?" Mr Holm was very sceptical about the quality of seafarer comfort onboard vessels being built today, which includes sitdown toilets without cubicles for privacy, and double cabins. "Some countries have higher demand for standards of prison cells," he said. "Why doesn't someone do something about that?"
"Recently the International Labour Organisation (ILO) came up with a big huge report on new legislation. It had no demands about accommodation," he said.
"Bridge equipment, cargo equipment, is being constantly improved to increasing performance. In the office, people know, if you give them a better office environment their performance grows. Why is it so hard to understand this on vessels?"
"Why is it so difficult for a junior officer to get a job if he has no sailing experience? We see officers going to sea training as apprentices."
"How many of you would you advise your kids to go to sea? Hardly any. Is there a message there somehow? Are we just asking these questions - or are we going to really do something to change it?"
TESMA has made a decision to opt for transparency in everything it does. "We believe - if you want to be in this business, you need to be transparent," said Mr. Holm. "We believe in the long run this pays off, even if you have to pay some heavy prices in between. Customer care is about information and transparency."
Mr Holm, said he thought TMSA was very different to ISO9001, which often has little substance behind it. "I think to be honest ISO9001 is a show off. We are doing this and this, and we can pull up a certificate," he said.

Haris G Giantzikis, Arcadia Shipmanagement

Haris Giantzikis, technical manager of Arcadia Shipmanagement, said his company had recently implemented a new software system to help manage maintenance and reliability (TMSA element 4), which helped reduce the number of overdue tasks from 10 to 2.5 per cent.
The primary purpose of the system was to identify problems linked with other related issues, manage historic data, coordinate and implement solutions, and learn from problem solving, he said.
"I think maintenance is as important as safety," said Mr. Giantzikis. "You will not be safe if you don't have a properly maintained ship."
Arcadia wanted to find a software package which would enable seafarers to fill out the necessary documentation, but save time.
"We started investigating the market for a software tool and decided to buy one," he said.
"We need to make sure the software is user friendly and fit for purpose. The software system is going to be used by crew onboard - they have plenty of work to do. They have to find critical information very quickly, it must be easier for the crew to report. We are trying to buy time - this is how we see it."
"We have to be able to prove that the work was done. Make sure your planned maintenance system includes all this information.
You can open a specific item and see all the history." "We did not buy the software just for TMSA," he added. "To have information about the history of the equipment - this is very important."
Arcadia chose the Ulysses Systems software package, and installed it on five ships in a year.
"We are very happy with the planned maintenance (PMS) system on the one ship running new software for a year," said Mr. Giantzikis. "There has been an improvement in promptness of maintenance though use of the new PMS system."
Arcadia did the data management inhouse. "We could outsource the data population - but we wanted to be in control." Not all of the responses to the system have been positive, he said. "Change is never easy. There was a four month overlap between the old and new systems, and the transition time was less for other ships."
"We had a chief engineer who did not send reports, or told us there was something wrong with the software. We had misunderstandings between the office and the ship."
Correspondence between the office and vessel is very important to discuss technical items, he added.
Mr Giantzikis was asked how quickly he found the right level of maintenance activities.
"We had to study and revise trying always to find sound justification to extend intervals in discussions with engine manufacturers," he said.
Altogether the company is scoring itself on TMSA at 2.86. "We're trying to see which level of level 3s we can work out," he said. "We were formally helped by DNV, and risk assessment was running with the assistance of ABS.
Commitment came from all of our departments." "The risk assessment took about six months with ABS. The gap analysis took two months. Preparing and revising procedures took three months, while software selection took four months."
As a result of the work, "we are more aware of our critical processes," said Mr. Giantzikis.
"Areas we can improve include identifying critical equipment, management of spare parts, risk assessment, best practices and benchmarking," he said. "We asked the question - where do we start, what do we do." "We are forty people altogether, together with the shipowners. There are six of us in the technical department."

Marco Ahrens, Interorient Navigation

Marco Ahrens, marine manager, Interorient Navigation, sees TMSA principally as a tool "to assist and guide efforts of continual improvement."
"It has not proved to be a hugely costly affair to date," he said. Interorient owns and manages about 130 vessels, including 50 under full management.
Interorient''s approach to TMSA has been to sit down, go through it, and identify gaps, putting together an improvement plan with a time scale and methodically working on this.
Since then, the company has worked particularly hard on environmental management, reliability and maintenance standards, Mr. Ahrens said.
The company runs inhouse office seminars, develops its own in-house software, and has a continuous process of trying to improve.
About TMSA TMSA is a scheme developed by oil majors, led by ExxonMobil, to leverage their market power over tanker companies to encourage them to provide the kind of management the oil companies think will be safer.
Oil majors are not able to make absolute demands on tanker companies; after all, there are only so many tankers on the sea, and the petrol stations need to be kept supplied.
So what the oil majors have done instead is publish a document showing what they believe to be best practice in tanker management, and then ask tanker companies which of the best practices they follow.
To make things simpler, the document is arranged in 12 chapters (covering topics such as mooring, environmental policy), with the best practices arranged in levels 1 to 4. Tanker companies are asked to say what level they are on, based on the level they reach.
On the surface TMSA looks similar to regulatory-type initiatives (ISM, ISPS), but is very, very different. Tanker companies are not forced to comply with anything, as they are with regulation, but there is an implication that you will be preferentially chartered over a vessel with a lower score.
So tanker companies feel the effects of their efforts to reach standards above the minimum in their wallets, where they will really pay attention to it.
The tanker industry has taken a range of different responses to TMSA, from saying they do everything in the document anyway, to saying they will invest money into improving their position expecting to recoup the returns from higher vessel utilisation, to saying nothing, with the implication that since they are not forced to do anything, they won't do anything, the oil majors will still need their ships.
There is also a lot of distrust that any assessment of safety systems made by shipping companies on their own ships may contain a large amount of fabrication (although most oil majors are substantially auditing shipping companies as well to check their own assessment). Continuous improvement is a strong theme of TMSA, following the Japanese management philosophy that the best way to be really good is to continuously look for ways to get better. There is no specific point you need to reach.

Goal conflict

An interesting discussion was held at the conference about how goal conflicts could be resolved. To stimulate discussion, Captain Hatzykyriakos from OSG presented an email which could have been sent from a captain to a company safety manager, saying that ''he was so busy with the vessel in a shipyard, he was unable to reply to e-mails.
He would do safety drills on the last day in the shipyard, and if the safety manager was not happy with this, he was welcome to discuss with the superintentendent''.
"Messages like this can come from experienced captains with good marks," he said.
"How come a captain with experience can send a message like this - he's going to do escape and fire drills the last day before sailing? There is more important work for the captain than his own safety?"
"There is always commercial pressure - but there always was commercial pressure."
"Shipyards don't have time - they give you a 20 day slot, to do a 5 year survey on a VLCC."
Captain Hatzykyriakos said he had heard of situations where seafarers had broken bones, because they were pressed by superintendents to work faster. Marco Ahrens from Interorient pointed out that the master is employed to say ''no'' when asked to do something which isn't safe, because he has to live with the consequences. "You can''t refer to superintendents," he said.
Conference chairman Dimitris Lyras, director, Lyras Shipping, said that the problem was reaching agreement between commercial and safety departments. "The top management should say, we are all aware we have to catch this slot without compromising safety," said Mr Lyras.
"Risk management is - do we catch this slot at any cost, or look very carefully at how we manage the slot."
"How will you remind people, yes we want the ship to reach this slot, but there is sea flooding in the tank, there are risks, we would prefer to lose the slot than have anything happen on the ship?"
"Who will the superintendent answer to if he's over budget? You can't communicate like a lawyer, and say hurry up, but read this disclaimer."
"It comes down to commitment from management," said David Stockley. "The most innovative people I've met can fix things, mend things, but they don't get the big things. They only get the big things if it comes from the top."
"If a superintendent sees someone not wearing a helmet and doesn't say anything, he's saying ''it's OK, don't wear the helmet''. You can put procedures in place, it doesn't come across without management commitment."
"We have to ensure superintendents have ownership of the system," said Claus Holm. "We have superintendents saying, ''why do I have to follow the procedure?''
We say, ''it's not our procedure, it's your procedure. If you don't like it, change it''. It's like when a financial controller says, ''it's not my figures, it's your figures, you're responsible for running this vessel''."
"And if you don't bring employees in and get the commitment, you won't get this up and running the way you want it."
Ex submarine commander Dimitris Angelopoulos, currently at the University of the Aegean, said that in the more complex environment of a submarine, the only way to manage all the necessary processes is to put people through detailed training and let them know what they have to learn.
Conflicts of interest can be resolved using balanced score cards, he said.
It is also important that people understand the global implications of their decisions, not just the immediate ones. "If people are assessed over the local measurements, they will never think of the global result," said Mr Angelopoulos. "They like to think, this is not my job." "The problem is that TMSA is seen from other people as a QSE project. Maybe the company should incorporate it as a global management system. [On the submarine] it took us 2/3 years to bring new systems onboard and have the people well trained on them. It takes time to absorb the training."
David Stockley commented that if a company had a KPI for financial performance, then it would want to continually improve its financial performance, increasing the pressures to rush to meet a tight shipyard slot.
"Shipping is a risk business, and the risk needs analysing," he said. "I'm the one who says - the ship shouldn't take more than 20 days. There's a difference between safety conscious and safety stupidity, and you can't say, we can't sail because of stupidity. It's good we have common pressure. If shipowners want guaranteed returns without risk, put the money in the bank.