Stay ahead of change... and the accountantsTaken from: RMM Corporate news 2012, Glasgow
The challenges - and tensions - in maintaining a vessel that is both financially and operationally efficient were laid bare at Riviera's inaugural Ship Lifecycle Management Conference.
Delegates from as far away as Singapore, attended the one-day event held 5 July in Glasgow. Immediately following the conference was the latest Riviera Ship Repair networking event. The combined attendance was 164 overall, including 55 shipowners/shipmanagers.
In a keynote address Alistair Evitt, the president of Intermanager and managing director, Meridian Marine, said that today's challenging trading environment was giving rise to 'an evil clan of accountants' who were cutting crews and budgets to the absolute minimum to secure short-term savings.
Mr Evitt urged the gathering to resist the temptation to follow suit, whatever the commercial pressures. Minimum crewing levels made contingency planning difficult. Swinging cuts in other operational areas were also short-sighted. "If a deal [on a piece of equipment, spare part or service] is too good to be true, it probably is. If you buy cheap you [usually] end up paying a second time when it all goes wrong."
He also encouraged the audience to invest in root cause analysis instead of just treating the symptoms of problems. Such an approach is likely to spectacularly backfire if a ship has a failure 'off the coast of Nigeria or Venezuela.' There also needs to be a concerted effort to reduce bureaucracy. "Keeping on top of documentary regulatory compliance is a drain and therefore a threat to safety."
Bob Maxwell, divisional technical director, V.Ships, advocated a pragmatic approach to ship life cycle management. "Concentrate on the factors you can influence. Crew costs is not one of them." He spoke in favour of key performance indicators (KPIs), however stressed they needed to work for the end users "and not just something you show off when the oil companies come in." He explained how V.Ships now has a team of three statisticians analysing KPIs and they were really proving their worth. He accepted new technologies have a role to play in improving ship lifecycle management, providing that is what they are. "New ideas are great but people are selling us things that we have known for years. Exhaust gas recovery is not a new idea."
The second session was themed the shipowner panel and comprised: Douglas Lang, managing director, Anglo-Eastern Group; George Taylor, group technical director, Caledonian MacBrayne; David Tongue, director of regulatory affairs, International Chamber of Shipping; Mario Bacelar, the manager responsible for spare parts, maintenance and documentation within Royal Caribbean Cruises newbuilding division; and V.Ships' Bob Maxwell.
Mr Lang made the case for meaningful and consistent maintenance philosophies and the need for a tool to calculate value. Mr Taylor spoke on the challenges of maintaining an aging fleet. "Obsolescence is a huge and costly problem." He said that installing new propellers on two of his vessels had brought "varying degrees of success". Vibration problems were seen on some ships when propeller pitch and vessel speed were reduced while manoeuvring. A pilot project involving two ships being coated with new silicon coatings brought no benefits.
David Tongue said the three areas to focus on were ballast water, emissions and ecdis. Mr Bacelar argued that manufacturers and owners faced common challenges and therefore should make common cause. This theme was picked up in open debate by Ian Falconer of Tyco Protection Services. He said that suppliers' highly trained and multi-lingual service engineers could play an invaluable and cost-effective role in training today's crews. Shipoperators, he said, just had to ask.
Bob Maxwell said the operative issue is training the right people, at the right places at the right time. He also said that key industry guidelines underpinning crew training had failed to move with the times. This led to an extended discussion on crew competence, which drew a well-timed reminder from Anglo-Eastern's Douglas Lang that industry at large, and shore-side staff in particular, should not blame crew for its own short-comings.
The afternoon sessions looked at new technology, the importance of paint systems, part procurement and condition based maintenance (CBM). Operator feedback from the floor was that onerous classification society regulations were stifling wider uptake of CBM regimes. James Henton, survey procedures manager, Lloyd's Register said that his society had developed courses for all operators. He also underlined Class' role was to make industry aware of its options but not to compel it to follow one particular choice or another. "It is not always necessary or desirable for a company to try and position itself on the leading edge of maintenance strategy. Clearly not all companies are in a position to move directly to a world class and best practice environment. Lloyd's Register has developed a system to assess an operator's situation and perform a needs analysis based upon a maintenance maturity assessment."
The Ship Lifecycle Management Conference was immediately followed by Riviera's Shiprepair networking event. This was attended by conference delegates as well as industry colleagues unable to join during the day. Conversations on the day's event, networking and business continued into the small hours.
To purchase the papers from the Ship Lifecycle Management Conference as well as keep-up-todate on future events visit www.rivieramm.com/events