As the maritime industry adjusts to the constraints placed on people’s movements imposed by governments to limit the spread of the coronavirus, remote ship surveys and inspections are becoming increasingly popular.
Classification societies have seen a surge in remote inspections despite the fact that the industry has been relatively slow in the adoption of new digital technologies.
Specifically, remote surveys and inspections mean that surveyors don’t have to be physically present on board a vessel, which is especially important during these challenging times caused by COVID-19. Instead, by using an online connection or video streaming link, a team of remote surveyors can provide support to vessels anywhere in the world with documentation, images, video and input provided by clients and crewmembers.
Digital technologies ensure that class services are delivered without disruptions, without compromising the safety of crew and surveyors.
It is likely that remote inspection devices could become commonplace in the future, replacing or assisting the attendance of surveyors.
DNV GL completes 15,000 remote surveys since launch
The impact of the global COVID-19 crisis has prompted demand for DNV GL’s remote survey services. The classification society said it has undertaken some 15,000 surveys and inspections since the launch in October 2018.
“The use of remote surveys has meant that we have been able to limit disruptions to customer operations resulting from travel bans or quarantines involving our surveyors,” Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO, DNV GL – Maritime, explained.
“Ship operators are able to receive immediately updated and verified electronic certificates, which make their business dealing with class, authorities and vendors much more efficient.”
Remote surveys were first rolled out by DNV GL in October of 2018 and have been gaining in popularity ever since. In 2019, for some survey types, up to 2 percent of all surveys were conducted remotely, with more than one third of clients having used the service at least once.
Liberian Registry, RINA and d’Amico leverage remote technologies for vessel inspections in response to COVID-19
The Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR) has approved the use of RINA’s remote technology for inspections of Liberian-flagged vessels. It is anticipated that the decision by LISCR could shortly be followed by other flag administrations
Italian shipowner d’Amico will take advantage of this facility in a pilot case on its fleet.
“The shipping industry is currently facing an unprecedented challenge and shoulders the responsibility of maintaining the flow of international trade during this crisis,” Alfonso Castillero, COO of LISCR, said.
“To ensure operational continuity, it is vital that we remain flexible and adjust our procedures in a way that protects personnel from exposure to the virus, while also increasing efficiency. RINA’s remote inspection technology … facilitates the normal operation of our fleet by making vessel inspection completely accessible during a time when surveyor travel is near impossible.”
“Shipowners and all operators in the sector are now facing an unprecedented challenge that can only be won by staying united and finding together technologically advanced solutions to protect human life and to ensure the continuity of operations efficiently,” Salvatore d’Amico, Fleet Director at d’Amico Società di Navigazione and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Liberia, noted.
“For many years now, the d’Amico Group has been collaborating with RINA to apply technology to the shipping industry, which, at this time more than ever, proves to be essential in inspecting ships remotely when surveyors can’t go onboard.”
RINA began trialing remote inspections as part of the classification society’s broader digitalization initiative back in May 2019. This initiative included surveys, but also electronic certificates, fleet performance online monitoring tools, electronic logbooks, virtual reality training and general remote inspection techniques.
From May 2019 until the end of February 2020, approximately 300 inspections have taken place, but now that figure has shown a sharp increase with a further 60 inspections predicted in March 2020.
ABS expands and extends remote survey options
ABS, another classification society, has also faced an increased demand for its remote survey services.
The company decided to expand its remote survey options for vessel owners and extend its remote survey and audit services for equipment and materials manufacturers and other key service provider firms.
“As organizations rely more heavily on remote and virtual operations, ABS is making it easier for vessel owners and equipment manufacturers to leverage digital applications by offering even more remote surveys and audit options,” Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said.
ABS has expanded its remote offerings to include drydocking extensions and radio renewals and will offer additional remote services in the near future. Additionally, it has extended its remote survey and audit services to existing equipment manufacturing and external specialist clients enrolled in ABS programs in the United States, South America and Europe.
According to ABS, access to remote surveys and audits allows for business continuity, particularly during challenging times that may create scheduling conflicts, personnel or logistical issues such as the current COVID-19 period.