Can digital technology solve safety challenges for the maritime industry?

In this article, we zoom into what safety challenges the maritime industry faces and how digital technology can help solve them. Explore the article further.


During the webinar, Remote Inspections during COVID-19 and beyond, we learned from more than one hundred participants that safety is still a top challenge for industries like maritime, oil and gas, constructions, and many more.

In a poll we shared during the session, 41% of the voters claimed that one of the challenges they have experienced during Covid-19 regulations was safety concerns. Safety has always been a challenge for the maritime industry and Covid-19 brought new challenges to the surface.

New safety challenges for the maritime industry brought by COVID-19

Avoiding contact especially when the crew signs on/offshore leave, avoid crew changes in affected countries and use direct flights, ensuring that these seafarers depart for their home destination in safe conditions, medical handling of suspect cases on board in accordance with an effective covid-19 contingency plan.

Ship Attendance for Certification and statutory purposes has also been affected especially with certification. Sometimes there may be problems related to the transportation of personnel (e.g. superintendents, inspectors, vetting officers, class/club surveyors visiting ships, etc).

Or in some cases port/terminal issues as a port/terminal may be closed for operations and subsequently delays may occur. Stores, Supplies, Spares may be subject to infection, and this may cause problems to ships.

“If ships struggle with pilot shortage or refusal to board due to safety concerns, delays will occur. Ships that are under repairs or within shipyards, will probably face problems due to work restrictions from the shore side.”

Above all, working remotely in the maritime industry is a challenge due to the lack of technology, digitization, and training.

All these new issues that surfaced in the last year inspired us to ask ourselves, can a digital technology like Smartflow solve the safety concerns these professionals are worried about? Moreover, what are those safety challenges a smart-data capture solution can solve and help improve?

The maritime industry is, by its nature, not the most accessible industry to work in. Many maritime worksites are difficult to reach; they require special transportation, equipment, and regulations. The conditions in which people work are complex, exposed spaces on a ship, or dangerous weather conditions, and now above all, Covid-19 regulations.

Can these conditions be monitored in a way that operators stop struggling with safety concerns?

Better monitoring and feedback of conditions, such as oxygen levels, dangerous situations, ropes and wires in bad condition, missing protection for machines’ rotating parts, electrical problems, equipment, structural deficiencies, like corrosion, loss of equipment, or system because of careless use, cracking, and buckling, pollution, hazardous situations, health concerns, could reduce the number of accidents and would undoubtedly make operators feel less stressed.

“According to Lloyd’s Register, 75% of maritime accidents are caused by human error. Primarily because of tiredness. Working on a ship is a challenge by default, and crew members are often experiencing fatigue, mental health and low well-being, social isolation, and stress, leading to major safety problems.” 

Complicated processes, too many technologies, or paper-based procedures play a decisive role in human error and a high level of stress.

What type of technology the maritime industry needs to solve these issues?

Technology is transforming the nature of how health, safety, and environment specialists manage risks, strategize decisions, and create future plans. Turning towards data and advanced analytics to use insights to improve safety, performance and costs is a beneficial roadmap strategy for this big industry.

The maritime industry needs a robust system that supports real-time, customizable, and accurate data for informed decision-making. To connect workers with the rest of the system, the integrated platform & app needs friendly usability that empowers the connected worker to create forms and checklists easily and fast.

“The maritime industry’s connected workers must collect data from multiple sources and manage it in real-time, right from the worksite. By streamlining the data capture process, the operators can automate if for future functions giving them more control and reassurance.”

Operators on a maritime site spend too much time searching for past reports or inspection checklists, which can be an overwhelming procedure. The maritime workers should organize the validation steps via workflows, have in-app access to browsing history, report in-app nonconformities right when they identify them, carry out the supplier audit directly on mobile or tablet devices, and most importantly, automate reports and prepare process reviews directly in the app.

How will a smart-data capture solution impact the connected workers’ performance?

By default, a smart-data capture solution will help workers avoid collecting misleading or incomplete data, which will empower them to work faster, more organized, and automated. This will lead to fewer accidents, better compliance to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, and other standards, and establish a clear preventive maintenance direction.

Maritime professionals are looking for ways to automate compliance processes to reduce workload, lessen audit risks, and minimize fines and violations.

With highly accurate and quickly assigned inspections to mitigate the deficiencies, the industry can elevate the crew’s safety.

Will remote inspections help the maritime industry increase safety?

A remote workforce will help businesses accelerate the execution and compliance of inspections, permits, and work orders. Maintaining the highest security and quality standards, at the same time reducing operational risks, and collecting real-time insight from the generated data, remote workers will impact the entire business roadmap.

Moreover, businesses should create strategies that focus on the workers’ best interests. Preparing your inspectors for the new digital normal should be an active part of the transformation. Most importantly, creating a culture in which the workers are united by technology and not feel replaced by it.

Watch on-demand the webinar Remote inspections during Covid-19 and beyond to learn more about remote inspections in the maritime industry. 

A connected crew

The maritime industry invests many resources to maximize operations’ collaboration by keeping the members connected anytime, anywhere. Although while the industry still relies on paperwork, this will continue to be a problem.

Inadequate inspections could affect the crew’s safety, so the inspection reports must be highly accurate and quickly assigned a time limit to mitigate the deficiencies. If these inspections are still conducted using the paper-based system, everything from human errors to time-consuming data distribution impacts the ship’s safety.

We are committed to helping our customers undergo an effortless digital transformation by understanding every challenge and need the crews members have.

Do you want to understand better the implementation of a smart-data capture solution within your team?

This article is shared by courtesy of Smartflow. Founded in 2011, Smartflow has digital innovation in its core. They built their solution to help energy businesses accelerate the execution and the compliance of inspections, permits, and work orders.

Click here to learn more about maritime safety.



Narjiss Ghajour

Editor-in-Chief of Maritime Professionals

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