Social networking, podcasts, games, QR codes and artificial intelligence bolster tug owner’s health, safety and the environment programme
Technology has helped Brazilian tug owner Wilson Sons reduce its fleet accident rate by 95%. With a fleet of more than 80 tugs, Wilson Sons had a lost-time injury frequency rate of 0.33 per one million man-hours worked in 2019. This covers more than 800 employees, of which 567 are seafarers.
Wilson Sons has implemented corporate social networking, podcasts, games, QR codes and artificial intelligence (AI) in its health, safety and the environment (HSE) programme.
These reinforce HSE practices in the company’s workforce, says Wilson Sons executive director of the towage division Marcio Castro.
“Innovation is at the heart of our business. These are often simple initiatives, but they enable significant results,” he says.
Digitalising onboard processes has contributed to positive HSE results by enabling safety communications and changes in behavioural culture on tugs.
“Our captains can record the safety dialogues and behavioural observations in an online system,” says Mr Castro. This information is stored in a cloud-based facility and can be accessed directly by the head office support teams in real-time.
“Another important initiative was installing closed-circuit cameras at key points of the tugboat including the deck and engineroom,” says Mr Castro.
“With these images we can identify possible risks and mitigate them.” He says Wilson Sons gains more precision in its investigation of any near misses, accidents and incidents. “This is another important pillar of our HSE project,” says Mr Castro.
As part of its digitalisation rollout Wilson Sons set up an internal social network (JAM). This is a collaborative communication platform that connects employees across the fleet and onshore offices.
Mr Castro says the towage division saw this as an opportunity to improve the way it discloses relevant safety content, particularly across its vessels to its seafarers. The JAM membership rate is 100% across the fleet.
“The platform gave us the freedom to develop multimedia products, which are more attractive and explanatory, in addition to speeding up processes with online access to materials,” says Mr Castro.
This enables Wilson Sons to launch campaigns, such as a recent video-based competition to encourage seafarers to record HSE practices on their tugs. Other programmes involved a game with simulations of unsafe behaviour on board, a three-minute video explaining safety procedures and HSE alert podcasts including reports of events and lessons learned.
In addition, Wilson Sons is now using AI in three ports: Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo state and Santos in São Paulo. This was developed in partnership with start-ups and contributes to more agile and safer manoeuvre planning, says Mr Castro.
Wilson Sons plans to implement AI in all 37 port and terminal locations it operates in by the end of this year.
It intends to use AI to identify deviations and unsafe conditions in real-time using video from onboard cameras “allowing rapid response and avoiding accidents and incidents” says Mr Castro.
Wilson Sons also monitors its fleet 24/7 through the Tugboat Operations Centre (COR). “With the COR, we can better plan manoeuvres and allocate the most suitable tugs for operations,” says Mr Castro.
It can “dispatch its fleet at the right time and at the right speed, reducing emissions” he adds. COR ensures navigation is conducted with sufficient draught and at secure distances from obstacles in the port channels.
Wilson Sons expanded its fleet in 2019, adding a high-power escort tug. Its affiliate shipyard Wilson Sons Estaleiros built 32-m seagoing WS Aries to a Damen Shipyards design with 90 tonnes of bollard pull, similar to 2018-built tug WS Sirius.
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