Arun Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director, head of IRClass, discusses advances at the classification society as it celebrates 40 years.
Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) is India’s “National” Ship Classification Society, formed to fill the need for having an Indian ship classification society due to the increase in Indian flagged commercial shipping tonnage, post-independence. Accordingly, Sir Ramaswamy Mudaliar first proposed to set up a National Classification Society. In response the Ministry of Shipping & Transport convened a meeting in Delhi on May 29, 1967 and proposed that a Steering Committee be constituted for the purpose. The Steering Committee, in 1971, recommended the formation of a Classification Society, and in the middle of 1974 a Promoters Committee was formed to cover the groundwork. It was decided that the society – established April 4, 1975 – would be non-profit and called the Indian Register of Shipping, with no share capital, no shareholders and distributing no dividends.
IRClass is collectively managed by those whose interests it serves; profit is not the motive. The board of IRClass includes representatives from ship owners, flag administration, underwriters, ship builders, ship repairers, general engineering industry and professional bodies.
According to Arun Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director, the primary activity of Ship Classification is being offered under the IRS banner. It carries out classification and statutory design appraisal, surveys and certification work on behalf of Flag States when authorized by various governments via IMO Conventions and Codes.
• Classification Services: IRClass ensures compliance of the ship with international codes and rules right from the ship design, construction and throughout her operative life, thus assisting ship operators and owners to maintain the asset quality, avoid PSC detention, denial of entry and expensive repairs.
• Statutory Services: IRClass carries out statutory design appraisal, surveys and certification work on behalf of a number of Flag States, towards compliance with following IMO Conventions and Codes:
International Convention on Loadline
International Convention for the safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
International Tonnage Convention
International Convention on Maritime Pollution Prevention (MARPOL)
Specification Services: The experience and knowledge accumulated through classification work enables IRClass to provide technical advisory and supervisory services for many government agencies and ship owners. IRClass provides independent technical support and impartial advice to owners. Owners get value for money, coupled with highest standards of quality during construction, conversion or refit. IRClass specification services have been used extensively by various ship owners including national administrations, port authorities, oil companies
etc. Specification services are provided for pre contract as well as post-contract stages.
Beyond Class Services
These services are being offered under an entity promoted by Indian Register of Shipping – IRClass Systems & Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
• Industrial Services – Technical Inspection & Certification – Services offered include:
o Third Party Inspection
o Quality Surveillance & Certification of Projects
o Evaluation of Design Documents
o Evaluation of Suppliers & vendors
o Energy Audits/ Safety Audits
o Hazop Studies
o Technical Investigation & Advisory services
• Management Systems Certifications and Training: Provide a wide range of Management Systems Certifications.
• Business Advisory Services – Consultancy services include:
o Condition Assessment Program
o Noise Prediction Analysis
o Infrared Thermography
o Condition Monitoring
o Ship Energy Audits
• IRClass Academy: Established to disseminate knowledge to the maritime sector, the Academy has already successfully executed multiple courses, including bespoke trainings, seminars, and expert panel discussions.
The professional progression of IRClass has been quite remarkable, according to Sharma, and notably it has secured full membership of IACS, which is granted only to the best and signifies high standards, excellent reputation and professional competence. Of the more than 50 ship classification societies worldwide, only 12 are full members of IACS. Within 15 years of its formation it was admitted as an “Associate Member” of IACS, and with an increase in its classed tonnage, an unblemished safety record and high standards of professional skill and integrity, IRClass was admitted as a full member to IACS in 2010.
Even with its success, IRClass rides the same cyclical rollercoaster of the maritime industry at large. “The maritime sector has been going through tough times in the last few years which has impacted many organizations,” said Sharma. “However we believe that the worst is behind us and green shoots of recovery are being seen. We have utilized the past year to restructure our organization to prepare ourselves for incumbent growth opportunities.”
Looking ahead, Sharma sees many areas of opportunity.
“India is widely acknowledged as a future growth engine for the global economy, and India’s manufacturing, infrastructure and energy sectors have been receiving unprecedented levels attention,” said Sharma. “The high GDP growth rates in India have resulted in increasing demand for Technical Assurance services in several new sectors like Renewable Energy. We believe that the role of classification societies has grown beyond maritime classification services and there is an increasing focus on Beyond Class services to cater to a larger canvas encompassing several other industries apart from marine.
This century is being seen as the Asian century with the balance increasingly shifting to Asia Pacific for growth. We therefore see opportunities in three main geographies – South East Asia, Middle East
and Africa and have plans to increase our presence in these regions.”
As IRClass expands, Sharma recognizes the need to stay innovative, and to that end he sees several areas of potential development in the years to come, including:
Clean Fuel Technology: “As the world is increasingly moving towards cleaner fuels, IRClass is continuously making efforts to cater to the new industry segments like LNG.”
Offshore Energy: “We have made forays into the offshore sector and are fast gaining credentials in the Oil & Gas domain.”
Training & Education: “Maritime Professional Development – Skill development is an important area of focus which we cater to through our IRClass Academy.”