People Power and New Technologies Debated at First InterManager Ship Managers’ Forum

Blockchain in the shipping industry, the safety culture among crew members, and the changing world of maritime payments were all debated at InterManager’s First Interactive Ship Managers’ Forum this week.

The conference, held on Monday, February 5,, was opened by Gary Pogson, Lead Specialist, Marine & Offshore Innovation Team, at Lloyd’s Register. Mr Pogson posed the question ‘distributed ledger for engineered systems – hype or hope?’

“A lot of the hype over the past year or so has been driven by ICOs or Initial Coin Offerings, facilitated by smart contract capabilities on blockchain platforms such as Ethereum – this is the new crowdfunding and the numbers are significant,” he said.

The interactive conference, attended by around 60 delegates who packed out the room in the Lloyd’s Register building, saw full audience participation through the online app Slido, which allowed delegates to post questions and comments throughout the conference and guide the debate.

Yuzuru Goto, Managing Director of “K” Line LNG Shipping (UK), spoke about the safety culture of crews and the launch of the “K”ARE Project in the company after it recognised the need to improve the safety culture as many accidents are caused by human error. The project followed a serious incident when a “K” Line- managed ship collided with another vessel in Zeebrugge. The other vessel completely sank and there was significant damage to the “K” Line vessel.

Mr Goto told the audience you can only shape the safety culture once you embrace failure.

He explained: “When I got the call at 3am I knew immediately that this was not a drill, it was for real. All you can think of is what if the worst has happened and we have lost crew members. Thankfully that did not happen, but there was damage to everything, and the other ship eventually sank. Upon reflection you ask yourself how did this happen and your initial conclusion is it is just bad luck. But when you look at it more deeply you realise it is down to the safety culture.”

Working alongside ShipMoney, a maritime payments company that facilitates onboard payroll payments through a singular integrated payments platform, Phil Kelly from human performance, training and consultancy company Pro Noctis, delivered a presentation on what feeds your decision making.

Discussing the behaviour of people, Mr Kelly said: “Particularly with today’s set of millennials, the next generation of leaders want things to be individualised. They want something that is not generic. Add into that automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and the one thing that binds this all together is us as human beings.

“There has been a lot of focus in your policies, infrastructure and IT and a lot of money invested. But we have forgotten about the people – and that’s not just the members of staff, that is right to the top as well. It seems the industry is a bit stuck and fearful of change.”

Continuing the discussion about people, Mark Charman, Founder and CEO of Faststream Recruitment Group, spoke about seafarers and shore personnel and why making the switch from working out at sea to shore is a good move for seafarers.

He revealed that through a Perception Versus Reality report Faststream had carried out, the majority of seafarers surveyed said they would never make the transition from ship to shore. Out of the total questioned, 85% said they were not interested in moving to a shore-based role. He concluded that attraction and recruitment is only going to get harder, saying: “If you don’t bear-hug your seafarers someone else will.”

Mark Robertshaw, Senior Vice-president, Sales & Commercial, at Brightwell Payments took to the floor discussing the changing world of maritime payments.

He told delegates that through Brightwell’s research, the company has found that the majority of crew members fall into three categories when it comes to their pay. They are: young, single and not necessarily working towards a goal or plan;  those who actively support their family back home and need to get money home to ensure bills are paid; and those who want to send money home but have the luxury to watch rates and send at optimal times.

Mr Robertshaw said: “If you think about it some of your crew get paid in US dollars, but their home currency is not in US dollars, so a lot of employers are saying we’ll pay you in US dollars. But if you, as an employer, pay your crew members in US dollars but allow the crew member to dictate when they transfer the money to their home bank accounts to benefit from exchange rates, then that is a big plus.”

How do we find the best seafarers in the world? That was the important question posed by Roger Ringstad, Managing Director of Seagull Maritime. The company run psychometric APRO testing to conduct ability profiling, For this project Seagull used test results from more than 20,000 individuals.

Mr Ringstad revealed that the DNA of the world’s best seafarers is made up of levels of knowledge, accuracy, speed, emotions, energy, affection and control.

Mikael Weis, Chief Operating Officer at ShipServ, an e-marketplace for the marine and offshore supply industries, spoke to the audience on how ShipServ is working with Ship Managers to understand and address some of their challenges. ShipServ works with its customers to reduce Opex by process automation; finding suppliers; optimising supplier base, and analysing and benchmarking.

He revealed that in a survey three quarters of its customers said it was difficult to answer spend questions and the majority understood the need to answer such questions.

Secretary-General of InterManager, Captain Kuba Szymanski said: “We had a fantastic line-up of speakers and a packed out audience for our first Ship Managers’ Forum. A lot of important issues were discussed and the interaction from the audience guided the debate. There were so many questions, we did not have the time to answer them all. Thank you to Lloyd’s Register for hosting our event and all our Partners who supported the event.”

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