Embracing The Digital Logbook Revolution

Credit: Mark König /unsplash

In an era of ever-smarter shipping, one key area of vessel and fleet administration appears stuck in the dark ages. Although the switch from paper to digital logbooks is yet to be mandated, Pierre Dominé, Quality Assurance & Investigation Specialist, Stolt Tankers, sees no need to wait. “There’s so much data across a single vessel’s portfolio of record books, and so much potential for gathering all of that together on a fleet-wide basis for better understanding, analysis and decision-making,” he says.

Change Is On The Way

On 1 October 2020, IMO enabled the use of electronic logbooks in lieu of hard copy records. Books covered by this measure include Oil Record Books (ORB Part 1 and 2), Cargo Record Book, Garbage Record Book, and Record of Fuel Oil Changeover, to name a few. Dominé, no stranger to the limitations of analogue logbooks, having spent 17 of his 26 years at Stolt Tankers as a Master Mariner, was already ahead of the game. Together with other seasoned experts, he saw the move coming and he was an early adopter of INTERTANKO’s  ‘Practical Considerations for Selecting Electronic Record Book (ERB) Products and Suppliers’. Industry progress since 2020, he says, has been slow, but change is gradually taking hold. “It takes time to change behavior,” he comments.

Smart Solutions

However, one of the hurdles, he believes, is that awareness of the benefits – at a vessel and commercial level – are lacking, while some digital systems are not yet “living up to their potential”. He explains that, across the industry, there are too many “advanced PDFs” rather than tailored solutions where AI and machine learning can drive improvements, enabling benefits such as learning engine ‘trends’ (and thereby delivering smarter preventive maintenance schedules) and benchmarking across fleets for tasks such as fuel transfers, helping create best practices.

The Future Is Now

Dominé acknowledges that Stolt Tankers has emerged as “early adopters’ ‘ but believes that, even though there’s no current mandate, other forward-thinking shipowners and operators will inevitably follow suit… and soon. “Why wouldn’t they?” he notes. “You don’t send a letter if you want to contact a friend anymore, or fax handwritten work details to colleagues… there are better, smarter, more efficient ways to do those things, and that goes for shipping and log books too.” For an industry that is at the forefront of global trade, with vessels and crews undertaking critical operations, there’s an imperative, he stresses, to employ the best solutions for optimal decision making and operations.

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Source: Navtor


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