Helm Operations and ShipTracks have partnered to develop software to improve tug dispatch for towage jobs
They have combined Helm Connect software with ShipTracks’ Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology enabling tug operators to streamline harbour dockings.
Through this agreement, Helm Connect Jobs will create towage orders automatically from the AIS. It increases operational awareness of pending towage work, reduces the workload of dispatchers, and enables operators to capture jobs that may have previously been lost to competitors.
This integrates tug scheduling and management with vessel tracking and movement monitoring, which were previously done independently.
Dispatchers will receive automated notifications of vessels entering port. They can see immediately if their company has a contract with the vessel and if the towage work has been scheduled. They can also automatically import the vessel and related jobs into the dispatch schedule using AIS data.
“With this integration with Helm Connect, we can offer customers revenue awareness,” ShipTracks chief executive Charles Riley says. “We help them plan for safe operations, and track and automate every potential job and source of revenue in the port to help them maximise returns and market share.”
Tools within Helm Connect Jobs can help increase efficiency and reduce costs, says Helm Operations senior account and integration manager Paul Cyr. “On the commercial side, many companies still have staff who watch AIS screens throughout the day to identify when new ships arrive in port. With this integration, we can automate that,” he said.
“On the dispatch side, we can automatically populate jobs for inbound vessels for review and approval by the dispatcher, reducing human error and saving hours of manual data entry.”
This software also alerts dispatchers when tugs are moving without assigned work or if vessels are going too fast while mobilising.
This integrated software has improved tug dispatch for owner Harbor Docking and Towing (HDT). “This integration has allowed us to automate our processes and improve data quality,” said HDT president John Buchanan.
“Our dispatchers can create an order just by grabbing the vessel and dragging it to the order slot, prepopulating the form with vessel data provided by ShipTracks,” he said.
“What used to take them five or 10 minutes now only takes them 30 seconds and we know the information they are using is accurate.”
Helm Connect and ShipTracks are exploring ways to integrate software more deeply with AIS technology to improve vessel operations.
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