XT Group is installing Fleet Xpress on its ships for remote IT management and improved resource planning
Container ship managers at Israel-headquartered XT Shipping are installing Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress (FX) across a fleet of vessels to deploy a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, improve crew welfare services and to enable remote IT management.
XT’s chief information officer Avi Lavi says FX is replacing Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband L-band services to “replicate a shore office IT environment on board our fleet”.
It selected Navarino to upgrade satellite communications on its ships with new FX antennas and terminal equipment, plus the Infinity Cube connectivity management device this year.
FX is a combination of fast online access through Ka-band coverage and reliable L-band beams from geostationary satellites operated by Inmarsat.
Shipping companies such as XT Management are migrating their fleets to FX to utilise the higher data rates for fleet management and crew welfare solutions.
“We wanted to implement a new ERP system, which necessitated a high amount of data transfer and data creation,” says Mr Lavi. “We also wanted to have the option to remotely install new software on board and to remotely provide effective IT support.”
FX connectivity is also available to seafarers on these container ships. “We wanted to be able to offer them a more capable solution with higher speeds than FleetBroadband,” says Mr Lavi.
Prior to selecting FX for container ships, XT conducted a trial of Navarino’s solutions. Together, they are installing FX on several ships this year.
“We are now able to do so much more for our vessels from our office, whether it is creating a new server, adjusting firewall settings or a variety of other extremely useful actions remotely,” says Mr Lavi. “In the near future, we intend to rollout the same installation across the fleet.”
Reliable connectivity became a vital requirement once XT decided to invest in the ERP system and use VSAT for remote IT services.
“If a vessel is without communications for even a short time, it can be a big problem”
Mr Lavi thinks there would be an operational issue if one of XT’s ships could not send data to shore. “If a vessel is without communications for even a short time, it can be a big problem,” he says.
“I believe that most modern shipping companies have the same connectivity and technology requirements these days.”
Migrating from FleetBroadband to FX has enabled a dramatic increase in connectivity speed for XT ships.
“The speed of our connections is vastly improved and it provides very robust solutions,” says Mr Lavi, who was also pleased with Navarino’s ongoing support.
“When searching for providers who could meet our needs, I looked at several other companies,” he explains. “But, I did not find any other provider who could deliver all the things we required under one roof.”
XT Shipping's communications upgrade will enable seafarers to keep in touch with their families and relatives at a reasonable price, says Mr Lavi.
The usage and costs are fully controlled by the mariners who use prepaid cards that are valid for all vessels in the fleet. Connectivity is used for internet applications, free personal mailboxes and global news, social media messaging services, sending and receiving text messages and for private phone calls in seafarers’ cabins.
“Our crews’ welfare is one of our top priorities,” says Mr Lavi.
Snapshot CV: Avi Lavi
Avi Lavi has more than 20 years of experience in ship operations and IT in maritime. He has been chief information officer for the XT Group, XT Shipping, and previously the Ofer Group, since 1999. Prior to that he was chief operating officer at Sivan, a private college for computer studies.