The offshore industry has turned to digital technologies to lessen the impact of Covid-19 mitigation measures, says a leading marine communications CEO
“This viral outbreak happened very suddenly, and no one was prepared for it,” says IEC Telecom Group, Middle East chief executive Nabil Ben Soussia. “Now companies have learned from what has happened and are more prepared to embrace the digital revolution. This will change our whole industry,” adds Mr Ben Soussia.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, travel restrictions, compulsory quarantine measures and social isolation practices have changed the way offshore vessels and drilling rigs operate, affecting the daily lives of offshore workers; many of whom have had their time at sea extended due to crew change difficulties.
For many, digital technology has been critical in overcoming the challenges of the pandemic.
IEC Telecom provides digital solutions for a wide range of land-based and maritime uses, installing satellite communications systems for businesses which need reliable connectivity in challenging areas. It has seen a spike in the number of enquiries from new customers as the pandemic swept across the globe.
“After this pandemic we will see a much higher demand for digital solutions,” he predicts. “Increasing numbers of businesses will look at introducing or increasing digital capacity as they realise the benefits of having robust connections during difficult times.”
Mr Ben Soussia explains “Digital solutions provide many answers to enable business continuity. The industry is now seeing how flexible and adaptable digital connectivity solutions can be, enabling them to modify their processes and procedures and even ‘think outside the box’ to be able to continue their operations despite lockdowns and restrictions.”
Mr Ben Soussia notes that it quickly became apparent that those vessels and facilities with VSAT capability on board had a distinct advantage, particularly in terms of being able to provide much-needed welfare support for crew – keeping them in touch with home, support networks and enabling telemedicine services to support onboard medical care.
Robust satcom links are an integral component of modern offshore communications. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this need for connectivity has grown exponentially. IEC Telecom’s connectivity solution, OneGate, provides the capability for remote upgrades, maintenance and adaption via a digital dashboard, enabling consumption increases and accessibility levels to be amended remotely, without the need for an engineer to board the offshore rig.
Using OneGate’s remote access facilities, IEC Telecom has been able to give crew enhanced online connectivity while at the same time increasing the bandwidth speeds to cope with the escalating digital traffic. Advanced VSAT connectivity with up to 8 Mbps bandwidth facilitates a full spectrum of online communication, including voice calls, email, internet browsing, teleconferencing, telemedicine and e-learning.
Importantly, built-in and advanced levels of cyber security provided by OneGate mean it is also able to ensure critical functions are protected from crew welfare activities and that the greater risks posed by this significant increase in personal internet use are mitigated.
OneGate’s virtual dashboard is a key feature in its adaptability. “The more technically advanced users have benefited from already having these systems installed,” explains Mr Ben Soussia. “In many cases, those with advanced connectivity can operate more or less the same as usual because they are able to change their settings remotely and carry out remote maintenance tasks when it was impossible to allow visitors.”
IEC Telecom has just launched OneGate Compact – a smaller, lightweight version which is easy to install and provides a fully customisable dashboard that meets the communications requirements of small offshore support vessels.
Observes Mr Ben Soussia “In challenging times, communication is vital. We have been privileged to be able to support customers in the offshore sector as they worked to overcome the difficulties caused by the pandemic and continue their business operations, and we will be here to provide solutions as the world recovers, evolves, and embraces new ways of being connected.”
Riviera is hosting a week of free to attend 45-minute webinars focused on maritime communications commencing 20 July. Register your interest now