Shipmanagement company Norbulk Shipping is already seeing the benefits from embracing the move towards paperless ships.
The Glasgow-based ship manager explored several options before deciding to move its IT systems to ‘the cloud,’ via the cloud migrator for Google, Cloud Technology Solutions.
A need for the industry to move to the digital world has been recognised by InterManager, the international trade association for in-house and third party ship managers, which believes the burden of administrative tasks falling on seafarers in today’s shipping industry is significant.
The paperless ship is a big issue facing the shipping industry with many companies trying to reduce time and paper used in form-filling, both onboard and ashore. InterManager is currently drawing up a set of guidelines aimed at reducing the amount of paperwork officers and their crew have to undertake while at sea.
Norbulk began the planned strategy with a pilot scheme in its Glasgow office. After running the pilot through various levels of the company for two months and receiving positive feedback, it rolled it out across their other management offices in Riga, Saint John New Brunswick, Manila and St Petersburg.
Peter Karlsen, Director at Norbulk, said: “We are continually developing our management systems and implementing cloud-based technology has assisted our goal of adopting paperless systems. With improved communications and transparency, we are able to access and interpret greater amounts of information. The benefits to the company, through this change in information flow are very real – systems do run much more efficiently as a result.
“As far as the quality systems go and the audits we carry out on the ships, they’re pretty thorough – something that is important in today’s market because there is simply no margin for error. Standards have been set so high now and there is a greater emphasis on quality management systems; the environment; and competent crew.”
The majority of Norbulk’s 80 plus ships it manages are run electronically, using the cloud-based technology for daily communication. With the use of the cloud migrator Norbulk Shipping moved email, calendars, contact and appointments from its old mail server to the new cloud-based system.
Mr Karlsen added: “I’m always impressed when people come to the office and we are able to show them on a big screen submissions from ships and all the documentation is there in an integrated management system. There are still a lot of handwritten forms that need to be filled in, but everything is logged into the system electronically. We have even moved over to paperless purchasing. Everyone is now trying to reduce the amount of paper that’s around.
“You won’t stay competitive unless you look ahead at advancements and digitisation and how that’s going to improve your businesses going forward,” he concluded.