By Capt. Anurag Dawar, Senior Superintendent, Marine & Safety
Perhaps the biggest benefit of deep and rapid change is that everything needs to be re-examined. The challenges posed by the COVID -19 pandemic to businesses all around the globe are unprecedented. Thome being the ship manager of choice for our customers was not immune to the rapidly evolving situation. In challenging times, all the “crazy” ideas that were dismissed earlier resurface for serious discussion. For the fleet support division; meeting the requirements of regulatory compliance, safety and real time monitoring of operational excellence forced fresh thinking and as a result new perspective emerged.
Throughout the second quarter of 2020, the Fleet Support and Innovation division has managed to devise and implement new processes including remote internal audits to ensure all our vessels remained ISM compliant, safe and operationally maintained to the highest industry standards. The remote audit process was developed in house by the division in cross collaboration with the vessel IT team which are spread across geographies in our Singapore and Manila offices. The process has seen rapid adoption fleetwide with 27 remote audits (~12% of the total fleet) and counting; within a span of 2 months since the first remote IA was conducted at the end of Apr 2020.
The remote audit process has been overwhelmingly well received by the ship staff with fantastic feedback received from the vessels.
The benefits of minimising the risk to sea staff from the spread of the infection to having more time to interact and participate in the audit process due to vessel being in open waters not engaged in other tasks, are one of the many reasons the sea staff believe that the process is here to stay for good.
Thome remote audit process was noted as an industry best practise in the recently concluded ISO 9001:2015 by DNV GL. The scope of the remote audit, supporting documentation including videos and live crew interviews with the ship staff by the auditor located in a different part of the globe; were all appreciated by the DNV GL ISO auditor. The company has since also extended the remote auditing process to remote marine and technical visits by developing the remote visit procedures and checklists.
The remote visits give the ship staff an additional avenue to discuss their concerns freely with the office management team and get workable solutions to the day to day issues onboard. The remote video conferencing facility is also assisting the shore management in accessing the stress levels among the ship staff due to prolonged global shutdowns and movement restrictions globally. The face to face meeting instils confidence in the ship staff that the shore management is standing besides them to meet all the challenges posed by these unprecedented circumstances.
The Fleet Support & Innovation department will always be at the forefront of innovation for the Thome group by developing smart and effective solutions to meet the challenges of the ‘New Normal’ as we cautiously tread into the COVID era.