New digital tools and a worldwide network of service technicians enhance the accuracy, consistency and timely delivery of lifeboat servicing
Investments in training, digital technology and multi-brand service capability are proving more than a match for a new regulatory regime for life-saving appliances, according to Viking Life-Saving Equipment.
Viking Life-Saving Equipment global service director boats and davits David Torres says MSC.402(96) requirements for equipment maintenance brought welcome clarity for owners, suppliers and service companies. The regulatory change replaced a ‘tick box’ exercise with a process that puts service engineer experience and competence at the heart of certification, he says.
“Viking has its own class- and flag state-approved maritime academy whose core is STCW training for hundreds of seafarers every year by certified trainers. Our service technicians also go through a training and certification programme to ensure they are qualified and understand what to expect on board a ship and in port. As well as being fully competent in maintaining Viking’s own equipment, part of this covers the competence they need to give certification for other makers and types.”
Having acquired lifeboat builder Norsafe and the marine fire service business formerly owned by Drew Marine, Viking has been scaling up its global organisation as a one-stop-shop for life-saving equipment and related service solutions. A significant portion of business is also done within shipowner agreements, which cover a full range of supply and maintenance needs for multiple equipment types over fixed periods.
“With 130 of our own service technicians worldwide, as well as service partners, providing inspection and maintenance for non-Viking products is a natural extension for our customers,” notes Mr Torres. “Our technicians are fully competent and certificated by the Viking Safety Academy to service other makers.”
Support through digitalisation
The need for fully accredited technicians to be available locally has seldom been so acute, given the travel restrictions caused by Covid-19. Conditions during the coronavirus pandemic have also highlighted the way digitalisation can support service engineers in the field, although Mr Torres emphasises that Viking’s investment in new technologies was already making sense irrespective of the pandemic.
Viking has developed ‘DigID’ – a class-approved badge system with its own QR Code accessed using a mobile phone camera to open a link to an engineer’s qualifications from the Viking Safety Academy. “This provides an easy way to verify the qualifications of the person coming on board and their competence to provide maintenance certification as required by the new regulations,” says Mr Torres.
Other digital developments include a new iPad-based inspection and reporting solution from Viking, which will enhance the accuracy, consistency and timely delivery of servicing documentation. Mr Torres explains that standard industry practice for lifeboat servicing relies on inspection reports that are compiled after the inspection has taken place. Aside from the wait customers can experience for relevant documentation to arrive, post-event reporting poses a risk for consistency.
The new iPad-based servicing solution creates a standard reporting format that builds in consistency and can deliver the inspection report immediately, he says.
Concludes Mr Torres, “With our new system, our engineers use a digital checklist to follow a standardised process and issue documentation on the spot, allowing the customer to resume operations without delay.” This also helps the owner to plan and budget for maintenance work – which in the long term can mean avoiding unforeseen outlays on costly downtime.
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