In recent months, IMCA has seen its eCMID offshore vessel inspection scheme expand in terms of the number of vessels registered on the database, usage, accredited vessel inspectors and global reach
eCMID – the electronic version of the International Marine Contractors Association’s (IMCA’s) Common Marine Inspection Document – provides standard formats for the independent inspection and auditing of vessels, helping promote safety and efficiency and reducing the number of repeat inspections on individual vessels by providing a consistent, transferrable format that meets vessel operator and client requirements alike.
As IMCA’s technical manager Mark Ford explained, at the beginning of 2017, IMCA announced that changes were afoot for the eCMID scheme from 1 January 2018. The changes meant an end to paper reports, with only formal inspection reports conducted using the dedicated eCMID database recognised as authorised inspection reports. Secondly, only validated accredited vessel inspectors (AVIs) can use the inspector functionality in the eCMID database to conduct Common Marine Inspection Document (CMID) (IMCA M 149) inspections and Marine Inspection for Small Workboats (IMCA M 189) inspections.
Not surprisingly, the final quarter of last year saw an unprecedented rush by vessel inspectors to ensure they were fully registered both as AVIs and for specific vessel types. Prior to this, it was normal to see perhaps 11 AVIs register each month, but in that final quarter, the International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS), which runs the AVI-eCMID scheme, reported there were often up to 10 a week.
There are now over 330 accredited AVIs in 47 countries covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, the Asia-Pacific region and North and South America. Non-accredited inspectors wanting to inspect a vessel now need an AVI to accompany them on the inspection. It’s the same if an inspector is not accredited for a particular vessel type.
The door is not shut to new AVIs, far from it. Registration details – and information of the IIMS eCMID accreditation courses taking place in Hamburg, Southampton and Sydney in coming months, with more planned – can be found on the IMCA website.
More than 2,250 vessels from more than a thousand owners/operators are listed, free of charge, on the eCMID database, which is regularly consulted by over 4,600 users from all over the world each year. The database is constantly expanding. Indeed, one major operator is currently halfway through registering 120 of their vessels.
The whole eCMID system is now based on the principles described in the ISO 19011 Guidance for auditing management systems standard and aligned with other comparable industry guidance on safety management system assurance. It is industry driven – developed by the industry for the industry.
The primary focus of the eCMID is on the actual effectiveness of companies’ international safety management (ISM) systems and can assist them prior to undergoing a flag state ISM audit to identify potential issues, which is a useful tool for any company.
“I cannot stress enough the value of an independent AVI inspection,” Mr Ford said. “When I came ashore after a 25-year career as a marine engineer on merchant vessels, one of my roles as a senior surveyor and divisional director in the safety and loss prevention department at a large London-based P&I club saw me carrying out ship condition surveys prior to and during entry into P&I cover, so I am well aware of the value of third-party ‘cold eyes’ inspections. Even companies with a good ISM system and an inhouse auditing team benefit from them.”
The strong international IMCA Marine eCMID Committee, headed by Stephen Birt of TechnipFMC, brings together representatives of vessel operators, inspection companies and clients to co-ordinate developments within the industry’s eCMID. Under their guidance, IMCA’s eCMID will, over time, prove its relevance to more than offshore vessels, eventually encompassing all vessel types.
Constant investment in the database and software behind it is obviously vital, and in due course, IMCA sees the system being self-funding, with fees for uploading inspection reports being reinvested back into the scheme to ensure its continuing development embraces all that the marine industry requires.