Train Crews to Avoid the ECDIS Adoption Cliff

By Paul Elgar, Jeppesen Product Manager for OEM services
Monday, December 05, 2011
Training can often assume intimidating dimensions and become a worrying bottleneck in any change process or industry transformation. The ECDIS mandate is a prime example.
 
The significance of training was underlined by José Sergio Gabrielli, head of Petrobras, when speaking about development of Brazil’s Santos basin field at the 2011 NorShipping Conference. “We will have to train at least 200,000 people […]. It is a long term human resources challenge,”he told Conference delegates.
Although ECDIS training may seem a little more mundane than this, it has become a major point of uncertainty in the industry ahead of the approaching mandate deadlines. Many shipping companies are struggling to find the best way to train bridge crews to use electronic charts and ECDIS.
As the final changeover date for electronic charts approaches, I feel that the shipping industry in general is not yet in-tune with the changeover to electronic navigation. While Jeppesen today has many thousands of subscribers to electronic chart products, many ship-owners and operators have yet to make a transition from paper charts to electronic navigation and will probably not do so before the mandate kicks in.
These players are heading for a technology adoption cliff where crew training is the key stumbling block. There are many reasons for playing wait-and-see, but uncertainty regarding what is actually required during the transition period certainly plays a part. One common impression is that the ECDIS goalposts are liable to shift, and that this is causing ship-owners to shy away from implementation.
Among the many questions to be answered — which ECDIS to choose; which backup to choose; what does the flag state require; what will Port State Control look for in an inspection — training is a point of particular confusion. This is borne out by experience in the ECDIS seminars that Jeppesen has held around the world, where around 90% of the questions aired concern training issues.
The ECDIS mandate is stretched out over quite a period of time, but one thing is certain; training cannot wait. We know from talking to many shipping companies that the transition from paper to electronic charts can be quite a long and complicated process. One major company we deal with told us that the transition on their vessels took them a minimum of six months given the procedural changes and training requirements.
By training bridge crews to use ENCs as early as possible – backed up by paper charts – you are paving the way for a smooth transition to full ECDIS and avoiding the training bottleneck that will occur when the mandate comes into effect.
You can make a rational transition from paper charts to full ECDIS, which allows crews to do effective on-ship training — as long as your ENC supplier has the range of products necessary to support this. ENC navigation backed by paper charts will make seafarers more comfortable with digital navigation. Then, when the time comes to implement ECDIS, they will have adopted good procedures and be able to navigate safely and with confidence.
With regard to ensuring that crew get quality training, both generic and type-specific, we recommend choosing an ECDIS that is supported by the major training centers and also has CBT training for the type-specific part of the requirements.
 
About the Author
Paul Elgar is responsible for Jeppesen's relationships with OEMs, and strives to get the optimal hardware and software functionality to customers. He has 30 years of experience in the IT and maritime industries. Email: marineinfo@jeppesen.com
 
(As published in the November 2011 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)
 
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