News Article 02/05/2007

Is planned maintenance just for compliance? (Tanker Operator, April 2007, p.2)

A planned maintenance system has lately been seen as a system to satisfy TMSA. Some companies have for a long time believed it is way to maintain information and know-how and to present it to interested parties at the time of need. But just as many have never believed it, says Ulysses Systems.

If a planned maintenance system is relegated to being a reporting system it will fail as on board engineers derive no benefit in reporting to the head office, especially if they are calling the shots due to short supply. Why should the chief engineer bother using the software to report experience if all it does is collect data for the office? If the SMS system is relegated to being proof of compliance to
ISM or a scoring tool for TMSA what is the incentive for masters and chief officers to pass their experience through the system to the rest of the fleet?
These systems cost approximately $30 per ship per day, including computers hardware training supervision and the like. Of this only $10 or less constitutes software licence and maintenance. Is it not plausible that this minor expenditure can save some of the above rather regular occurrences? Could timely warnings and transfer of corporate experience save some of the above?
Most ships have hardware and software just to write letters and e-mails so half of the $30 is already being spent. The return on investment for the extra $15 per day can be achieved in any one of the following ways:

  1.  Saving the superintendent time approving the spares requisitions made by the chief engineer.
  2. Saving the chief engineer time making the requisitions.
  3.  Saving time creating a budget of forward spares and provisions expenses.
  4. Last but not least: saving time complying with some of the oil companies requirements which specify that shore staff monitor on board maintenance scheduling, as well as critical spares inventory.

As a by-product of these mundane time expenditures the company can gain some value in avoiding the above mentioned common incidents like losing anchors in places known for this, machinery failures in machines with known vulnerability, failures in highly reliable machinery that have been forgotten for far too long and others, Ulysses said.
There is often a concern about the validity of keeping a computerised inventory of spares on board. The spares inventory is of course vulnerable to the degree of diligence with which spares are added and removed from store rooms on board and assigned to maintenance. The reason why this has been difficult in the past is that keeping such an inventory basis via a paper, or even computer approach, has been cumbersome and of course chief engineers and second engineers are in short supply and very busy.
But a properly designed inventory system can make the maintenance of inventory very much easier.

Conclusion
The benefits arising from the adoption of a well-written planned maintenance system can be divided in two categories: those of efficiency and those of prevention. Like any good solution it must either increase efficiency of the people involved or improve a process.
Man hours saved from the retrieval of timely and relevant information by people who need it most is an example of efficiency while the avoidance of costly errors constitute examples of prevention.
An ergonomic planned maintenance system can be an extension of the officers own experience on board providing vessel specific experience combined with prior corporate experiences and applying them to the contemporary issues the organisation is facing.
The more instinctive the interaction with the system, the more man hours and thus the more money is saved. The more relevant the information is, the more likely it is for crew members to prevent incidents and inefficiencies.
Like an ergonomic mobile phone it will end up being used more and containing more useful information, thus helping get more things done in a day.
In addition an ergonomic PMS will coordinate past experience with current action and save money.