Reducing administrative work for officers

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum and already have some questions for all of you.

My name is Till and I work for a small company that is creating a product to improve inspections on ships (hull, safety, engine) and eliminate some of that administrative burden that comes with all the reports that always need to be sent.

Our tool will be a mobile app that lets you conduct inspections in a structured way and report deficiencies quickly. After an inspection is done, data is uploaded directly from the phone and will be accessible to the TSI/HSEQ on shore in a dashboard. No more typing in Word and Excel sheets.

Now to my questions:

  1. What is the most annoying thing for you regarding frequent inspections (of any kind)? Is it conducting the inspection itself, planning it, creating the report or something else?

  2. Do you sometimes forget to inspect something and realize it later, but you do not want to go back? Would a clear structure with a list that contains all items which are to be inspected help you?

  3. What would be the biggest benefit of using this tool in your eyes (for you and the team on shore)?

  4. Is there a reason why you would NOT use a tool like this?

I’m glad to listen to any feedback you have and if you are interested in knowing more about the tool, I will be happy to give more information. Thanks in advance!

Question 1, is being woken up for an inspection. Question 2 , my mate is the one to wake up, who will not be pleasant. Question 3, wake those fuckers up every chance you get. Question 4, would absolutely use it if it applied to my answers 1,2 and 3.

  1. It’s part of the job. The most annoying thing is not having someone else to pawn it off on.

  2. No. Every vessel that I’ve worked on has some sort of vessel management software that already has this. It provides the inspection schedule, date of last and next inspection, description of what the inspection entails and what needs to be recorded and allows access to previous findings with a click of the mouse.

  3. I see no benefit to duplicating what already exists aboard the vessel. The vessel software and shoreside software are connected via satellite. Deficiencies, depending on the severity, are reported to the office via email or phone calls. Minor deficiencies are typically handled on board prior to completion of the inspection report.

  4. I would not use it as I’d be adding a layer of complication to the task of paperwork. Why would I do everything in one program only to have to then transfer it to the other program?

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It depends who you are marketing towards.

For smaller operators without a CMMS, then yes, it could have a benefit if it is intended to be an inexpensive alternative to a full on CMMS. There are still operators out there, even large corporations with only a handful of vessels, that are still operating on excel spreadsheets.

For larger companies and those with an existing CMMS, most already have this functionality. These days existing robust CMMS’s schedule, report, remind, and compile all manner of inspections, deficiencies, and regulatory requirements. Any company that provides a decent data link to their vessels has all of this real-time info on shore as well. Mobile devices have been in use from a limited standpoint for at least 15years, and more broadly in recent years and continues to expand.

The most frustrating part of reports is being asked to run a report for someone who has the ability to run it themselves.

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Tried to find out who is custodian of the custodians.
On line, drew a blank.
I know it’s Latin or Greek or Roman or something but absolutely diddly squat (sod all) is coming up.
I mean, nothing at all.
Kind of like trying to translate something foreign on your home computer.

When a surveyor, from an extremely well respected Surveying/Class/Flag company, says to the Deck Officer whom is escorting him (me), ‘Would you like to be home for Christmas; because if you do then I suggest that you get off now’.
Bit worrying.

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Thank you for your feedback!

Just to be clear, you look at the maintenance schedule on the ship’s computer and then go off to do the inspection with pen, paper and a camera, right? We do understand that companies and crews do not want to use multiple tools at the same time because it would get annoying.

Instead we want to provide a solution to make inspections themselves faster and compiling reports a thing of the past. So you could also just use the mobile inspection tool to do the inspection with the phone and then upload the data automatically to the existing CMMS without the need for putting in all data manually to the computer again.

Would that help you to spend less time with inspections and reporting?

Correct. A few notes from the operations perspective.

Paper inspection sheets with “grease on the page” are the currency of some port state inspectors, Class surveyors, and auditors. They want to see observable evidence that inspections are being done. Something like a tag on the fire extinguishers with a mate’s initials every month will go much further than a phone app. It may be antiquated thinking, but there are a lot of antiquated people in this industry who are the gatekeepers to your making it through a regulatory inspection with no deficiencies or findings.

This phone app would require the officer doing the inspection to have a smart phone that they were willing to carry around. With my company, something as simple as a laptop for the crew to view training material is scoffed at by management. A tablet or smart phone would be a roll on the floor laughing moment for them.

Now if you were to get in bed with ABS Software and create a tablet app that allowed seamless integration with NS Enterprise, or a similar database based maintenance program, I would definitely get behind it. For a smaller operation that doesn’t get involved with full ISM, I could also see it being beneficial. Just not for what I currently work with.

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Also you would have to have some kind of intrinsically safe device, or you can forget every tanker out there.

No, thats my point.

Modern enterprise CMMS have used mobile device inspection for over 15 years as I said. When I started with MSC in 2006 we used a mobile device for data entry on round inspections. Return to the ECR and sync. No paper and pen required. I don’t know that it has advanced outside of simple rounds for them since I left, but it is not new.

Likewise with the brand new CMMS at my last company. It was intended to be based on a mobile device for all manner of maintenance and inspections. And yes, we already had intrinsically safe cases for the devices since this was Oil and Gas. We used tablets for supervisory safety inspections too, audits, with photos, notes, etc. All automatically syncing for fancy management dashboard pie-chart crap.

But, those were massive corporations with untold amounts of money spent on requisition and implementation of those programs. So if you can make a cheaper more elegant solution for smaller organizations, then I’ll bet it has a business case.

I see both sides. For some tasks its easier to have a paper stuffed in your pocket to jot down notes and pressures and readings. If I have to take my gloves off and pull an electronic device out of my pocket and try and finger tap or use a stylus while dripping with oil and my head in a crankcase…I might prefer the grease stained paper. For a lot of other mundane inspections a mobile device could certainly streamline data entry. Scan a bar code on a fire extinguisher shows that both it and you were there at a timestamped time, just as an initialed paper but more accurate and traceable. I do find however that note/comment detail drops off when the keyboard is replaced with thumbs and a stylus.

One more point/suggestion: One major gripe I always have with maintenance management programs is difficulty seeing history while working on a current item. If I’m in the field performing an inspection and something doesn’t look right, I want the ability to tap one key on that mobile device and see what the reading/inspection recorded last time it was completed. You could say the dishonest worker might use this as a cheat to complete the inspection from the comfort of a bag of rags, but I think you should design systems for honest worker.

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With our system we want to try to integrate with other systems and reduce the overall workload for everyone. We are also conscious of all the challenges of the ship environment, that is why knowing the details of the everyday work life is important, so we can adapt the tool to it.

Using a stylus is a good idea we have not thought about yet. With the app, you are able to provide accurate proof that you did an inspections and show detailed reports during class inspections, so this could improve transparency and trust. We are still working out the exact features and want to make it a good experience for crew members, so your feedback is highly appreciated!