News Article 08/02/2005

'IT can help shipowners manage risks' (ELNABI, Issue 373, January 2005, p.78)

08/02/2005 - ELNABI, Issue 373, January 2005, p.78

Eliminating confusion with regard to IT in shipping is the target of Task Assistant which is the core product of Ulysses systems.
Mr. P. Pantelis director of Ulysses systems explains: ''Eliminate confusion at every level of human interaction with software, starting from indexing information and handling of the software intuitively, right up to matching the software to real needs of the enterprise while focusing efforts: on overcoming the obstacles''.
Mr. Pantelis also notes: ''These factors were taken into consideration in the development of the Task Assistant platform and applications, our main product. It is a suite of modules that cover Operations, Safety & Quality, Planned Maintenance, Purchasing and Crewing. It is a Task Oriented system where the end user needs to be familiar with the tasks he or she is expected to perform rather than the functional navigation of the system. The turnover of staff on board vessels makes the demand for user friendly and intuitive software much higher in the marine industry than in most others. Therefore the Task Assistant is as close to walk up and use software as can be found in enterprise software''.
Mr. Pantelis strongly believes that shipping needs clear and defined processes. He says: ''There is no doubt that in the current times there is no tolerance for marine pollution. The role of the media and pressure of other interested parties are a vital part in this.
The only remedy in on incident is for the operator to be process compliant and manage risk to satisfactory standards at all times. Incidents will happen, the only remedy for the industry is do its best up to that time and be able to prove it.
Shipping needs clear and defined processes in order to help manage the risks and to continuously prove its competence.
However, Mr. Pantelis admits that: ''So far the industry has been very successful without computers. Thus, IT will not change the main processes which are time proven, but software will have a very significant support function that will increase the efficiency and the performance of the multi tasking people within the industry like the managers ashore, the Masters and the Chief Engineers onboard. IT should not intent to change common practices, as it has been perceived to do up to now but it will help people become more efficient by enhancing their ability to manage information. Shipping is a service provider, with a target to continually provide a better service with the available resources. In this, the human factor is vital. Therefore it is the human element that needs to be supported in the marine industry which is what Ulysses proposes''.
Mr Pantelis supports that ''Saving time is an essential target that can be achieved through the proper support and inclusion of every business processes. Saving Time is translated into saving money and this is where IT will help at the same time as the proper implementation and satisfactory adaptation of these processes. Imagine how much time the onshore and onboard managers of the company spend for organizing the maintenance and defects resolution to the satisfaction of an oil company office systems inspector while keeping spares costs to the satisfaction of the owner. The easier the process, the more cost effective it becomes. Chief engineers and superintendents do not have time to get involved with bureaucratic processes. This streamlining also applies to the e-procurement systems that link the buyers with the suppliers'' completes Mr. Pantelis and explains, ''The entire purpose of e-procurement is to save vendors and buyers valuable time. As this trend is becoming more popular, the need for working easy- to-use system that integrates the company''s processes with the external supplier is vital. The answer is intuitive system design. For instance, take a traveler that wants to book an air ticket through the Internet. He or she has no patience for on awkward process to execute this task. Ergonomics is even more vital for e-commerce to work''.
Regarding Maritime communications and ship management applications Mr. Pantelis says that ''are improving all the time. Broadband maritime systems are the natural progress of broadband systems ashore. They have many advantages once they are set up with adequate backup facilities. However, software companies need to develop software systems that can work with all kinds of communications systems even the more conventional systems. It is likely that shipping companies will not provide broadband communications to all their vessels, however software must be uniform and work in the entire fleet. We as a software house must provide our service under all levels of ship shore communication sophistication. The more basic ones are the most challenging not the most advanced. As the vessel is a key mobile unit of the company, the communication of any aspect between the ship and the office is necessary. The proper operation of the vessel demands a continuous ship shore communication. The seafarers become familiar with proper guidelines and clarified processes. With improved communications life on board the vessels becomes easier and the crew performance is improved''.
Finally, referring to Ulysses pricing policy Mr. Pantelis stresses ''Our pricing policy is based on a Return of Investment criterion for each client. We believe we have built the lowest cost software solutions for ship managers involved in the technical management and operations of maritime fleets. We have achieved this by ensuring that users spend the lowest possible time interacting with the system and being preoccupied by the system while achieving the required process control''.