Superyachts are high consumers of provisioning items. For everything from food and toiletries to spare parts and fuel, crew are constantly kept busy with the never ending cycle of managing consumables. However, digital solutions are playing an increasingly important role in improving and streamlining these processes.
Traditionally, inventory management has been managed by basic means. Anything from Excel spreadsheets to paper based record keeping has, until now, been considered acceptable for managing a vessel's ever changing inventory levels. Now, with the monumental advancements made with cloud-based software as a service, vessels have access to a raft of affordable, efficiency increasing platforms to assist with the management and re-ordering of yacht provisions and spares.
Managing inventory items is a three step process:
1. The need for the item is identified. This could be in form of a replacement mechanical part or interior consumable.
2. An inventory management platform is searched to see if the item is present and in stock. If not, the item is ordered. If the item appears as present, the item will be located and the quantity edited to represent the updated level.
3. If an item is ordered, it arrives onboard, is either used or placed into storage and the inventory system is updated.
The key to a successful inventory system is addressing all three steps. Our experience, working closely with engineers, has allowed us to form a number of conclusions. Firstly, we identify that having the ability to manage orders through yacht maintenance software increases the transparency between engineering crew. For example, orders can be placed by the chief engineer and monitored in Seahub by the 3rd engineer. Upon receipt of an order, the status of that order changes and all this information is shared in real time between all users.
An increasing number of yachts are utilising cloud based solutions to manage their inventory items due to the increased use of laptops, Ipads and mobile phones. The process of stock control and parts re-ordering can be streamlined using these devices, giving you more time to focus on other tasks onboard.
Sam Wheaton, Director at Seahub, comments, “The idea behind using software for any application is ultimately to save you time and/or money and to streamline a process or outcome.”
A digital solution offers protection against loss of data, human error and the chance of automation. By developing a statistical database of inventory consumed over a period of time, HODs are able to more accurately project future reordering levels. Ultimately this will save vessels money by reducing overspending on inventory items that are less likely to be consumed.
“We see a need in the industry for more transparency and integration between departments. As we evolve Seahub we aim to close this gap. We will also focus on the automation of reordering by partnering with parts manufacturers with the hope of allowing crew to order parts directly through their Seahub accounts,” says Matt Hyde, Director of Seahub.
Provisioning and the re-ordering of inventory have significant room for improvement. Yachts should strive to improve the efficiency of this process and to reduce the impacts of over-ordering. Likewise, from a quality of service perspective, crew should aim to minimise the impacts of under-ordering for owners and charter clients. With the emergence of yacht maintenance software as an effective tool for HODs, further advances in this area will likely prevail.