Breaking Barriers: How Digitized Inspections are Changing Technical Management and Driving Competitive Advantage in Shipping

Discover how digitized inspections are changing technical management, boosting safety, accuracy, efficiency and empowering teams.

The maritime industry has long relied on manual inspection procedures, which are known to be time-consuming and inefficient. This can lead to significant challenges, particularly when the industry is faced with macroeconomic and geopolitical pressures. In 2023, these challenges are compounded by the need to adhere to international regulations and standards, maintain safety, and ensure efficiency. 

With the shift towards a paperless world gaining momentum across industries, the adoption of mobile technology and digital tools is becoming increasingly critical for the shipping industry to streamline the manual technical operations, such as inspection processes and maintenance.

The World Bank highlights the importance of digitalization in the maritime industry, warning that "delaying the digital transition could lead to higher trade costs, lower competitiveness, lower economic growth, and lower employment."

Key Benefits of Adopting Digitized Inspections

> Enhanced Safety Standards and Compliance

The maritime industry is witnessing a growing trend towards digital transformation, with regulators like the OCIMF launching digitized inspection programs such as SIRE 2.0. This program focuses on accuracy, capability, reliability, and adaptability, highlighting the importance of digital technology in enhancing safety and compliance. 

Shipping companies are adopting mobile technology to streamline safety and compliance procedures. Seafarers can now use mobile devices to access safety protocols, emergency procedures, and self-training materials. In addition, they can utilize mobile apps to collect inspection data and report findings in real-time, sharing the information with crew members and technical teams. This holistic approach to digitization significantly improves safety and compliance at sea.

> Improved Accuracy of Inspection Data

The digitization of inspection processes leads to a significant improvement in data accuracy. Through mobile inspections, human error is minimized by using standardized formats, automated data entry, and data verification. This approach ensures that inspection data remains consistent, accurate, and reliable.

The increased accuracy of inspection data directly impacts the decision-making process for shipping companies. By having higher-quality data, companies can make more informed decisions regarding maintenance, safety measures, and overall fleet management. This results in improved vessel performance and optimized maintenance costs.

> Increased Efficiency of Technical Teams

Digitizing inspection processes in the shipping industry leads to substantial improvements in efficiency, especially for onshore technical teams. Traditional inspection methods require significant manual labor, including data entry, data verification, and report generation. According to a Splash247 article, technical superintendents spend 65-75% of their time doing generic tasks. 

By adopting mobile devices and digital tools, these tasks can be streamlined, enabling technical teams to focus on value-added activities. This shift towards digitized inspections results in considerable time savings, allowing technical teams to prioritize tasks that impact vessel performance, safety, and fleet management. 

> Empowered Crews

According to EMSA, digital-native seafarers account for 41.5% of EU seafarers. While they may be more familiar with digital tools and eager to adopt them, it is crucial to promote the advantages of digitization not only for digital-native seafarers but also for those less accustomed to digital tools. To cater to a diverse workforce, mobile apps and web applications should prioritize user-friendly and intuitive interfaces.

Average age distribution of seafarers in EU (2020)

By using mobile devices for inspections, crews can efficiently input data, capture images, and access information on the go. Thus, reducing the time spent on manual data entry and form completion while eliminating the need for paper-based checklists.

Additionally, mobile devices facilitate continuous learning and on-the-job training by providing seafarers with direct access to relevant self-training materials and procedures. A Forrester Research study found that 58% of surveyed frontline workers across various industries consider self-service access to training materials essential. By offering intuitive digital solutions, shipping companies can support the development and performance of seafarers, regardless of their digital proficiency.

> Reinforcing Trust and Collaboration across Teams

Digitized inspection procedures significantly enhance transparency and accountability across both onshore and offshore teams. Standardized data, automated findings management, and report generation streamline processes, fostering seamless collaboration between crews and technical teams.

By utilizing digital inspection tools like Kaiko Systems, technical teams can track and monitor inspections in near real-time and gain valuable insights into fleet conditions and future maintenance needs. This increased visibility ensures that all stakeholders stay well-informed, promoting a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. Improved communication and up-to-the-minute updates on inspection findings and maintenance activities keep everyone on the same page. 

Therefore, digitized inspections enable shipping companies to adopt a proactive approach to technical management, preventing issues before they occur and reducing downtime and costs. This enhanced level of trust and collaboration contributes to more efficient and safer operations.

Effortless Inspection Digitization

Ship management companies are already reaping the benefits of digitized inspections, and Kaiko Systems is playing a significant role in this transformation, with its solutions being deployed on over 400 vessels. The implementation process is straightforward, but it may slightly vary depending on the specific use case and objectives that technical teams aim to achieve.

One of the first steps is to source a rugged mobile phone or tablet for use on the vessel. Then Kaiko Systems will set up digitized checklists and company procedures tailored to each vessel type. The most popular use cases across current customers include pre-PSC self-assessment, hull and equipment visual inspections, safety rounds, and custom company forms. Kaiko Systems offers a fast rollout process: in just one day shipping companies can start benefiting from digitized inspections.

With the Kaiko Systems mobile app, crews can easily conduct regular inspections, report findings, and take photos on-the-go. This eliminates the need for paper-based checklists, as all inspection reports are digitized and available on the dashboard at any time.

Once the inspections are completed, technical teams can assess the results in the dashboard. The data is structured and verified and all findings are reported and highlighted. The analysis of the vessel condition is streamlined, and the time and effort spent are significantly reduced.

In conclusion, the digitization of inspection processes is an important aspect of the maritime industry's digital transformation. The use of mobile devices and digital tools has provided numerous competitive advantages, including improved safety, accuracy, efficiency, and empowered teams. Shipping companies that embrace this change will be better equipped to manage the challenges of the industry and stay ahead of the competition. 

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