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From “Floating Black Boxes” to Real-Time Safety Reporting On Vessels

By Jonathan Stolk


December 18, 2020

A leading shipping company with a fleet of over 20 huge vessels, ranging from combination carriers to container vessels faced all the health and safety challenges that come with a distributed workforce.

With huge vessels often gone for weeks and workers constantly traveling in various weather conditions using a paper-based safety system, there was no true visibility about what happened on the ships.

Even though management got regular phone calls about the status of the company’s ships, the reports couldn’t really be trusted because it was all on paper. One of the main issues was that, when a minor incident happened, the required documentation wasn’t filled immediately, often due to severe weather conditions.

In addition, the ships were obliged to do daily checks, but there was no way for the supervisors onshore to know if those checks were actually done every day. To make matters worse, a lot of safety issues were found and fixed while the ship was sailing and never reported.

What happened, in reality, was that workers would fill all required forms all at once, a few days before arriving at the port.

In the end, management would only receive reports about major accidents and no other trustworthy data.

There was no visibility and no in-depth data about what was happening while the ships were sailing. Health and safety data was extremely difficult to collect due to long wait times.

Safety – first and foremost

This company puts safety above everything. And, as an industry frontrunner, they were determined to take their health and safety reporting to the next level. While looking for ways to digitize their process, they began to install and improve the ships’ internet capabilities. 

This made it possible to digitize reporting and connect each vessel to the head office for real-time insights. 

Another driver of the change was the company’s sustainability commitment. As part of its Digital Innovation project, the company is always looking for ways to reduce paper usage through automation and digitalization. This led their safety leadership to look for possible tools that would enable staff to reduce the usage of paper forms to the absolute minimum.

Finding the right solution 

In search of a solution, the company decided to explore the available EHS platforms. After testing out various solutions, they decided to go with Capptions for four specific reasons:

  • It fit the existing workflow best while offering all the features the company needed in a complete package;
  • The infinite customization options enabled them to adjust the solution to match the organization’s existing health and safety processes;
  • It could be integrated with their existing business intelligence systems;
  • Real-time reporting was easy to implement with Capptions.

These advantages were extremely important for the company, so they decided to equip their workforce with the Capptions mobile app and start using the Capptions platform. 

True transparency! At last. 

As soon as the vessels started using Capptions, management saw the effect. Not only did the platform remove the need to carry paper forms around, but it also made reporting real-time!

The live BI dashboards in the HQ were fed with Capptions data, enabling real-time visibility on each ship and connecting the supervisors onshore to the staff at sea. 

With Capptions, the inspection process is completely digitized. The head office finally has true transparency on the operations of all the vessels in their fleet. The supervisors can log on to the online environment and check the current status of any ship at any time. 

This lets them know if the vessels are compliant while they’re away, turning audits into a seamless and ongoing certification process. There is no need to wait for the ship to be at a port in order to make an audit.

The digital journey continues

With the implementation of Capptions, the company is able to digitize not just health and safety audits, but also maintenance reports, and improvement suggestions. Each crew member can now contribute to creating a safer work environment because sending reports and observations is seamless. Employees are also more motivated to report issues because they can do it easily, wherever they are. 

The company is now implementing more stable internet connections in their ships so it is easier for the reports and regular checklists to be sent in real-time to management. But, even when that is not possible, they know they can rely on Capptions because it works offline.