Maritime communications are evolving at a phenomenal rate and the market is showing signs that the maritime industry may have access to the same services and applications to that of land based services.
Using the Internet ashore with broadband connectivity is considered to be a daily habit, and in many cases a must. We use it with our smartphones, tablets, in the office, even at home with Smart TVs, all of which have a great impact on our lives. Now we are experiencing the next generation of seafarers who are born with a mobile in their hand and are experts when it comes to new technology. However when they step foot upon a ship equipped with narrow band technology terminals they see access to the internet impossible. This technological evolution, alongside the transformation of business ashore, is forcing huge changes onboard ships.
There is increasing pressure on ship operators to set themselves apart from the competition by providing a better overview about the vessel’s operation including: cargo status and containers temperature, fleet tracking and reporting with real time updates, bunker fuel consumption, and crew welfare issues. These requirements are pushing operators to bring the vessel closer to the office, with the need to manage, monitor, control, and improve processes such as on-line planned maintenance, compliance reports, e-purchasing, e-learning, entertaining, port documentation, as well as dealing with the various regulations and conformances. This is made possible through broadband connectivity.
In addition, as crews are not staying ashore for long periods anymore and as the current communications that exist onboard are said to still be lagging some 10 years behind terrestrial connections, seafarers are now seeking employment with operators who can provide internet café style facilities, or operators who are looking into the possibilities to having such systems onboard their vessels. For crews, communications are of growing importance and it is essential that operators do their utmost to enhance crew morale and welfare onboard by providing this service.Recruitment challenges will once again become a hot-topic as crew move on to more ‘connected’ vessels, impacting crew retention and costs for the operator. By deploying the organisation’s intranet and messaging onboard the vessels, the crew will better communicate and collaborate with the shore staff resulting in improved performance for the benefit of their organisation.