The dust has settled on 2018 and it's time to review what we learnt, what surprised us and what we predict will happen with planned maintenance systems (PMS) and the wider superyacht technology market in 2019.
When news broke of the global order book for 2018 being 773 (the largest since 2010), there was a collective wave of optimism over the network of companies that support these builds; commissioning and running of superyachts in the global market.
For us here at Seahub, we predicted vessels in the 30-50m range would make up the majority of our new clients for the year in 2018. It was a trend we saw developing in late 2017 with a rush of vessels in that size range deploying Seahub either as the first PMS onboard, or as a move from a previous provider or, in some cases, upgrading from paper based or excel based record keeping.
Each new deployment gives us an opportunity to learn how a vessel approaches planned maintenance and how maintenance is typically viewed on board. There is no cookie-cut model that applies to every programme. What is most interesting is the variety of approaches to scheduling routine checks and inspections. There are fundamental factors that often determine how a vessel approaches these elements. They include:
The size of the engineering department or whether there is a dedicated engineer
The size and age of the vessel
The programme - how often it travels, the area in which it operates and the organisational standard enforced by the captain or HOD
The intelligence our account set-up team gains by working with vessels of all sizes, scenarios and stresses allows us to develop what we consider to be industry best practice when looking at effective maintenance plans. It’s invaluable knowledge you can only understand by working closely with captains and engineers in real time and real life scenarios.
Leading into 2018 we saw planned maintenance considered a tool that focused on capturing all data that was considered valuable to the vessel and crew. This often resulted in many individual tasks, addressing individual pieces of equipment. This approach is best for vessels with multiple engineers who have time to handle the data entry required. This trend was common throughout 2018 on vessels between 50-100m.
What's the Future for PMS in 2019?
Coming into 2019, we were fortunate enough to work with four vessels in quick succession that were all between 80 – 100 ft. It was a unique grouping of vessels that allowed us to compare approaches on the fly because all four vessels were going through the account set-up phase simultaneously. A common pressure throughout was the lack of time that captains had to manage the programme. We were asked to come up with maintenance plans which addressed all critical maintenance requirements but required minimal daily management to stay on top of.
Without giving away hard-earned secrets, there’s a vast number of ways we can achieve an effective maintenance plan that requires little time daily to manage. The key is understanding the vessel, the location of components and the workflow of the person in charge of managing the maintenance plan.
Looking forward, we see this philosophy at the centre of many successful Seahub deployments in the future. Regardless of whether the vessel is 80ft or 80m, this principle frees up time for crew, while making better use of the system to plan and stay on top of maintenance.
They say the best way to make a prediction is to look at past trends. Another key source of information is understanding what is happening in similar verticals or industries, especially industries that share similar user behaviours.
We are tipping mobility to be a major factor in the way crew perform their roles in 2019.
Mobility, aka the use of mobile devices, is nothing new. But the efficiency gains and the ever-increasing dependency on mobile devices is a common theme across many industries; if not most.
Mobility should not be feared. When we consider the tasks that can be supported through the use of mobile devices, the case for more mobile usage on board starts to stack up. Take provisioning – whether it's for the galley, interior or exterior, it can be done on the fly. Research – need a quick answer to a problem or query? I unashamedly got through my first solo engineering role with a heavy reliance on Google and YouTube thanks for my cell phone. Contractor Management – for engineers managing emails, quotes and invoices quickly can mean the difference in finishing a yard period on time or not. Recruitment – Captains and HOD’s can quickly browse CV’s and review references all on their mobile devices.
They are incredibly powerful tools that can bring about real improvements in the way crew perform their roles.
From an onboard technology point of view, we are also expecting to see the rollout of more virtual reality (VR) devices and AV systems adopting more wireless noise cancelling devices for a more personalized AV experience. Picture a yacht which has wireless noise cancelling headphones in all cabins, allowing guests to hear only audio as the engine noise is drowned out underway? Happy guests, right!?
2019 is shaping up to be a busy year for the industry. Shipyards are pushing design and construction to new limits while crew are enjoying greater access to new technologies and ideas to enhance their onboard operations.
*Images courtesy of Sam Wheaton/Seahub