Blue Planet Shipping is undertaking an IT infrastructure overhaul which has seen the company centralise fleet operations through real-time data sharing between its vessels and shore based hub, to drive performance improvement using the 40GB of daily operational data generated by each ship. Head of IT Theodoros Pandis explained the benefits to SMN.
Greece-based ship manager Blue Planet Shipping, established in Piraeus in 1996, is currently in the process of creating a Big Data revolution at the company, with the firm transitioning from the limitations of traditional shipping operations based around low data volumes to becoming a technology-driven vessel operator applying real time operational information from shipboard equipment to optimise performance across its business.
Modernising in this fashion has involved the introduction of a corporate enterprise resource planning (ERP) software package to create a unified application infrastructure across the organisation, as well as an upgrade of the communications systems deployed on Blue Planet’s 14 bulk carriers, which are moving from FleetBroadband to Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress (FX) VSAT product provided by Navarino.
In an interview with SMN, Head of IT Theodoros Pandis explained that, while it was possible to take some initial steps on this digital journey using the lower bandwidth systems already in place, such as creating a basic connection between the vessels and the ERP system, the additional capabilities enabled by increasing the amount of data that can be transferred to shore have been significant enough to justify investment in the project.
“The primary motivator for the investment in the FX system was the company’s desire to align with its vision on how the vessels and office should operate in order to increase efficiency and productivity. This in and of itself was considered a worthwhile investment and any further benefits are welcome, although not the primary driver of these upgrades,” he told us.
“Generally speaking, FleetBroadband was able to serve our normal operations such as communications and the complete ERP functionality. The FX system however brings with it a whole new spectrum of options on how to further utilise the company’s IT infrastructure.”
“This means that we can include large volumes of supporting documents, diagrams, forms, photographs and other files into our ERP system to make them available to the crew right alongside the tools they use to perform their work.”
Central data hub
Some of the capabilities that Mr Pandis points to as having been enabled by the new set-up include implementation of additional sensors to collect a range of operational data from ship machinery, and support for continuing moves towards operating ‘paperless’ vessels where every required file or document is stored in the ERP system and synchronised across the entire fleet.
To facilitate this, Blue Planet’s corporate IT infrastructure has been centralised around the company’s Head Office, which acts as the synchronisation hub for all operational vessels and the central point through which all necessary files and folders can be shared and distributed. >>>continued on page 2