- Ferries are boosting their infotainment offerings, from enhancing the working life of crews to introducing a ‘digital wallet’ for freight customers.
- Inmarsat has joined forces with Greek ferry operator Attica Group and digital consultancy Thetius to launch the Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge.
- P&O Ferries will offer freight customers a new digital product aimed at easing some of the border control issues caused by Brexit.
Ferries are boosting their infotainment offerings, from enhancing the working life of crews to introducing a ‘digital wallet’ for freight customers, says an article published on Riviera website.
Launch of Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge
Inmarsat has joined forces with Greek ferry operator Attica Group and digital consultancy Thetius to launch the Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge: crew training and entertainment.
Focusing on the needs of ferry crews, the competition invites start-ups and SMEs to put forward digital solutions to enhance the training or enrich the leisure hours of personnel. They often work for weeks at sea under intense pressure and experience frequent rotations.
Inmarsat Maritime senior vice president Peter Broadhurst adds, “The Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge provides further encouragement from Inmarsat for the disruptors driving maritime digitalisation. Working with Shell Shipping & Maritime, the 2020 Crew Welfare Open Innovation Challenge showed the extraordinary array of digital options owners have to enhance conditions for seafarers. It also brought an original fatigue management and rest coaching platform closer to market.
“We are delighted to work with Attica Group and with Thetius once more on what promises to be a ground-breaking exploration of the innovations available for crew training and entertainment in the ferry market.”
About innovation challenge
Applications are invited for solutions in four work-related areas – ship familiarisation, regulatory training, emergency response and customer services – all of which must support content delivered in Greek.
A fifth category seeks solutions serving crew leisure hours through innovations which help them make better use of their own devices to stay in touch and access online media.
With £10,000 (US$13,500) prize money at stake and support provided by Inmarsat, Attica Group and Thetius to implement proof of concept trials on board a working ferry, the Innovation 1Challenge was open to initial online submissions until 28 February. First proposals had to include proof of concept planning and demonstrate solutions can be scalable by an owner fleetwide.
In mid-March, a shortlist of entrants will be invited to pitch their ideas to a jury comprised of serving seafarers and crew training specialists, and representatives from Inmarsat, Attica Group and Thetius. In May, trials are scheduled on board one of Attica Group’s vessels, using high-speed Inmarsat Fleet Xpress connectivity, Fleet Connect dedicated bandwidth and the Fleet Data IoT platform.
“Supported by Inmarsat, the first Crew Welfare Open Innovation Challenge in 2020 focused on tankers and attracted 49 entries,” says Thetius managing director Nick Chubb. “In that case, entries covered key crew wellbeing, fatigue, deck safety and administrative burden issues. We are delighted to launch the Inmarsat Ferry Open Innovation Challenge to explore the impact digital solutions can make on crew lives on board a very different ship type.”
Digital solutions, Meet the requirements of modern seafarers
The focus on ship familiarisation, for example, reflects the fact that ferry crews face special challenges in getting up to speed when joining new vessels, especially during the high season.
Safety is at stake if there is a lack of understanding of the ship, its equipment and its procedures. In a sector where crew changes are frequent, digital solutions also work well to maintain awareness of fast-changing regulations and understanding knowledge gaps.
Again, digital solutions support simulations to test knowledge of emergency situations and can turn customer service handbooks into interactive tools.
“Attica Group is committed to exceeding expectations on best practices, motivation and wellbeing among its crews,” says Attica Group chief operations officer George Anagnostou.
“Digital solutions will play an increasing role in meeting the requirements of modern seafarers. We fully support the objectives of this innovative programme and very much look forward to hosting the winning technology on board later this year.”
Elsewhere, P&O Ferries will offer freight customers a new digital product aimed at easing some of the border control issues caused by Brexit.
A new set of border requirements for cargo movements from Europe to the UK was introduced 1 January 2022. In response, P&O Ferries has introduced the digital Travel Wallet free of charge. The product is aimed at helping hauliers plan the pre-journey process better to make it simpler for drivers checking in at their ports.
P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite says, “The new border regulations add complexity, time and cost to all areas of the process, but they are here to stay and will become business-as-usual over time. We believe it is up to everyone in the sector to do all they can to simplify the processes to make them as efficient as possible, and this is something P&O Ferries is committed to.”
The border requirements introduced in January last year led to reports of confusion across the logistics sector on what declarations were required for each journey and incorrect paperwork being presented at port check-ins, which led to increased waiting times.
Mr Hebblethwaite says P&O has asked customers for feedback over the issues they face.
“One issue we have found at check-in is that drivers, who may not speak the local language at the port, are often not sure what paperwork they should have ready, which can lead to dozens of documents being passed to our employees to work through. We understand this is difficult for the drivers, and we want to help in any way we can.”
The Travel Wallet will help customers identify the right documents required for each movement based on the route and the cargo being shipped.
Customers can also use it to verify the documents and then save the digital paperwork in the tool, generating a barcode that can be used by drivers at check-in, removing any language barriers and allowing drivers to simply to scan and go.
Travel Wallet was created in partnership with CNS, a UK-based technology firm within the CARGOES Community arm of logistics firm DP World (which owns P&O Ferries) and is now available on P&O Ferries Dover-Calais route.
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