Remote Surveys Becoming Business as Usual
Remote vessel and equipment surveys have been available in the maritime world for years, but classification societies are seeing increased demand for these services as more firms turn to digital solutions to continue business during the coronavirus outbreak.
Using real-time video communication tools, and even drones and robotics when applicable, surveyors are able to work with stakeholders to perform inspections without having to be on site, which is especially beneficial amid current COVID-19 travel restrictions.
ABS, which polled nearly 200 representatives following webinars detailing a significant expansion of its remote survey services, says more than 92% of those surveyed believe remote techniques can be as effective as physical surveys, while 100% believe remote surveys improve operational efficiency and wanted increased remote survey options.
In early February Bureau Veritas performed an engine test conducted jointly between Paris and a facility in China with multiple stakeholders witnessing the test process. A BV machinery expert located in Paris, the BV network office in Germany and an equipment maker in Europe were able to witness testing in a facility in China where BV surveyors were present.
Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice President, Technical & Operations, Bureau Veritas, says, "This capability is really just starting to make an impact for our clients and stakeholders but we are well advanced in developing the necessary evolution to our rules, our procedures and connecting the remote survey technology with our digital platforms and tools.
"Remote service delivery will become a part of everyday life for us. The capability does not replace our surveyors but allows speed of access and connectivity between teams and stakeholders to enable decisions to be made quickly and with confidence."
"In recent weeks, we have welcomed many more requests for remote surveys as more of our customers explore the capability of remote technologies," says Nick Brown, Marine & Offshore Director at Lloyd's Register, who has been working with clients to perform services remotely in appropriate circumstances.
DNV GL reports it has seen a surge in remote surveys as vessel owners leverage the greater flexibility and efficiency they provide.
"In these challenging times we are seeing the benefits of the full scope of digitalization initiatives that we have been building up over the past few years," says Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO, DNV GL – Maritime. "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. 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."
Joseph Riva, ABS Vice President and Chief Surveyor, says the group's remote survey services are "uniquely geared to help meet the needs of vessel and offshore asset operators as well as equipment providers, particularly during this challenging time."
"We continue to explore new and innovative ways to expand that offer still further,” Riva adds. “As feedback from the industry makes clear, remote survey is now business as usual for our clients and we continue to deliver these services all over the world, increasing operational flexibility and efficiency as well as safety performance."
ABS previously offered survey services including Concurrent Load Line, Minor Damage Survey, Boiler Three-Month Extension, Condition of Class and Statutory Condition, Tail Shaft Survey Three-Month Extension, Continuous Machinery Items and Underwater Examination Survey, and recently expanded its remote offering to include Drydocking Extensions and Radio Renewals, with plans to offer additional remote services in the near future.
ABS also extended its remote survey and audit services to existing equipment manufacturing and external specialist clients enrolled in ABS programs in the U.S., South America and Europe.
“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,” says Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
RINA announced recently that its remote technology has been approved the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR) for the inspections of Liberian flagged vessels, and it expects other flsg administrations will follow suit. Shipowner d’Amico will trial the service.