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Digital Maritime Week

Uptake of remote maritime surveys requires industry standardisation

The pace of uptake for remote maritime surveys may be challenged by a lack of industry standardisation and awareness, and Singapore is looking to address this challenge by launching an open call for a Joint Industry Project (JIP).

Speaking at Informa Markets Digital Maritime Week Sea Asia webinar on Tuesday, Steen Lund, Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) council member and chairman of SSA digitalisation committee, observed that remote surveys have actually been done by the industry for “quite a long time”, albeit still lacking a standardised approach.

“Classification societies, to a large extend, are leading but there are also other service providers contributing to remote inspection, remote audit, remote surveys, well before COVID-19,” Lund said.

He shared that one class society has conducted more than 15,000 remote class surveys, and they are not just done in this relatively brief COVID-19 period.

But up to now, vessel owners are seeing too many proprietary approaches and solutions proposed by different service providers, and it has been too costly for users to embrace more than one solution.

In Singapore, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and SSA have launched an open call for a Joint Industry Project (JIP) aimed at seeking solutions and standards for development of remote ship inspection and survey.

Lund said the JIP will have a “specific focus on standardisation and bring forward a way to allow owners and managers to make remote surveys become a much more normal operation that what it is today.”

Lund, who is also chief commercial officer and group chief digital officer for Executive Ship Management, pointed out that it will be impossible for a small to mid-sized ship management company engaging with eight class societies to respond to each class wanting to do remote surveys in their own ways.

“We are calling for a JIP in Singapore where we can standardise our approach and make a recommended practice for each service and technology providers to contribute, rather than doing things on their own terms. We are trying to lay a foundation in Singapore, but not unique to Singapore, so that we can hopefully take it global,” Lund said.

The opportunity of remote surveys from a technology point of view could be to generate technology standard for hardware and supporting software to capture activities onboard and provide augmented reality-aided information from shore-to-ship within the same physical platform. This could be combined with a standard reporting platform for use on any vessel for any activities.

Such an open and standard approach regardless of the work tasks are expected to reap benefits in terms of improved productivity, lower costs and reduced physical exposure for ship inspections, surveys, audits and troubleshooting.

“Standardisation is a huge factor, and the more we can join forces in standardisation, the faster we can see digital uptake for the industry,” Lund said.