Ship Inspection: Expectation & Reality

Regular inspections of the ship and its equipment are required to minimize the risks associated with factors such as machinery damage or failure as well as fire or explosion, which account for over 50% of incidents worldwide.

Shipping is one of the most international industries in the world. However, the safety performance is still far from ideal. According to a report published by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), 3,000 incidents happened and 54 ships were lost in 2021. Machinery damage/failure, collision and fire/explosion accounted for over 50% of incidents globally. This causes high costs for companies, enormous environmental damage, and even loss of human lives.

Regular inspections of the ship and its equipment are needed to minimize incident risks. These procedures are planned to take place on a periodical basis and are strictly regulated by international and national laws. Shipping companies are required to follow the regulations and in many cases, implementing extra safety measures. However, there are still many improvements needed to match the expectations of inspections. 

Expectation: The ship's crew is doing inspections regularly and the ship's uptime can be secured.

Reality: The crew is overloaded with duties on the ship and many operations are prone to human errors.

According to a report published by World Maritime University (WMU), seafarers face “systemic failures” in the implementation of the regulations related to hours of work and rest. Seafarers are often overloaded with tasks, which undermines the effectiveness of inspections. Instead of improving accuracy, inspection and reporting are mainly done to have the record be checked.  This might lead to high probability of human errors which contributes to 75% to 96% of marine accidents. Or even overdue inspections, which raises concerns for both ship companies and regulators. 

The success in the maritime industry depends on people. Hence, empowering crews on manual technical operations such as inspections can bring tremendous benefits. In Kaiko Systems's case, crews are guided to conduct inspections via a mobile application, with which, they can also upload the data in one click. In this way, frontline operations such as inspections are streamlined, reducing time needed, and the reliability of the inspection data is guaranteed. 

Expectation: When entering ports, ships are prepared for Port State Control (PSC) inspections.

Reality: Shore teams are often feeling uncertain when vessels approach ports. 

Vessels are regularly inspected by PSC to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of international regulations. When PSC officers find clear evidence to believe that the condition of the ship or its equipment does not correspond substantially with the particular regulation, then a more detailed inspection will be carried out. This will lead to the ship being detained or delayed. To avoid this, crews are expected to pay extra attention to particular concerns based on the vessel’s condition while conducting Pre-PSC inspection. 

A report that tells which parts of the vessel need to take a detailed check is necessary. For example, while guiding crews to conduct inspections, Kaiko Systems presents the last finding related to this component to crews in the app. In this way, findings can be rectified on the spot during the pre-PSC. This reduces the risk of delays and detention, and also increases crew member knowledge.


Expectation: Technical superintendents (TSIs) focus their time on operations that can leverage their deep knowledge and expertise.

Reality: 60-70% of TSI’s time is wasted doing ‘generic’ tasks such as organizing documents and sorting data. 

As the main contact with the ship crew from shore, technical superintendents (TSIs) are the first to be called when a problem occurs on a vessel and their primary role is to solve problems on time. In many cases, TSIs supervise several vessels at the same time. Due to many inspections being based on paper and excel, TSIs have to spend a lot of time to go through the data and determine actions needed to reduce risks. These generic tasks such as organizing and structuring data can be done much faster and cheaper with technology.

As TSI's virtual assistant, Kaiko Systems automatically verifies the plausibility of data and structures data into visualized analysis. This not only allows TSIs to identify findings right away,  but also enables them to fully leverage their expertise on analyzing root causes, trends and take proactive actions. For instance, when the system finds a newly implemented component that is the cause of the breakdown in the ship, the system can identify other vessels that might be subject to the same vulnerability. Because of the nature of the maritime industry, ships can be anywhere across the globe and this causes challenges when ordering replacement parts. But as a result of technology enablement, the problem was anticipated and proactively solved.

Expectation: Inspection results should be the cornerstone for data-driven technical operations.

Reality: Plausible and implausible data are mixed which leads to meaningless analysis.

Data plausibility is a common issue for many shore teams. Technical superintendents and technical directors often have concerns about the accuracy of the information in the system. As mentioned before, checks can be rushed and done only “on paper” which also raises concerns on human error. This puts the technical team in a reactive position.

To verify the reliability of data, shore teams sometimes have to spend more of their time just checking the metadata to verify if the photos submitted into the system were actually taken on the same day as reported. Kaiko Systems helps to reduce this manual overhead to shore teams by automating the data plausibility checks, allowing technical teams to split implausible data from plausible data in seconds.

Expectation: Predictive technical operations.

Reality: The data is generated in an unstructured way, hence decreasing opportunities and accuracy for predictive approach. 

Predictive risk management is about doing something based on potential risk as determined from normal operational data (i.e. not accident data) to reduce the risk of an accident that has not happened (yet). Though there is a tremendous amount of normal operational data available in the technical departments, the data is mainly unstructured and unreliable. As is commonly said, garbage in - garbage out. Only with reliable data, risk management can be taken a step in being more proactive. 

Currently, despite the importance organizations assign to safety, the methods and technologies used remain primitive, and most do not give a good understanding of how well the risk is being managed. With the development of technology, it becomes increasingly evident that digitization can become the fundamental drivers for safer, smarter, more collaborative technical operations.

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