“Technology is an enabler, but value continues to come from human expertise and experience,” says Joep Bollerman
Over the past few months, Lloyd’s Register’s remote survey and technical support systems have proved vital in achieving some sort of business continuity for its customers. In fact, according to Joep Bollerman, global manager at the organisation’s Passenger Ship Support Centre in Miami, much has been accomplished that would not have been possible even a couple of years ago. “Remote surveys have been completed successfully and Lloyd’s Register has fulfilled an essential role as a strong link between cruise lines and flag state authorities, making the case successfully for remote surveys to flag state personnel who have sometimes shown reluctance to accept this new approach,” he says.
Lloyds Register will continue to invest in digitising its services so that in the future these technologies become the norm rather than the exception. “The industry has to embrace the acceleration of the safe use of digital techniques to equip classification societies with the means to provide the safety assurance of ships and assets remotely, reducing the need for personnel to be physically present onboard ships,” Bollerman says. “This would lead to traditional physical attendance surveys becoming enhanced and supplemented by remote surveys and data through the use of digital technology such as digital twins, which will build confidence that safety levels and availability of ships can be maintained during periods when we cannot get onboard.”
Despite all this, Bollerman is quick to explain that the move towards a more digital offering will not negate the importance of people. “Technology is an enabler, but value continues to come from human expertise and experience,” he says. “There are still experts reviewing inputs and making decisions based on their experience. Remote surveys are just a subset of remote and technology-enabled working and, as we all become more comfortable working differently because of the changes imposed on us, we will find new ways to deliver value to those we serve – all centred on our core skills and expertise.”
Indeed, Lloyd’s Register always has one eye on the future, and Bollerman says it will do everything it can to help customers adapt to meet future requirements. In the months to come, this will mean a greater emphasis on risk mitigation, as well as focus on the provision of medical facilities onboard, particularly for expedition vessels sailing in remote areas. “When the virus is under control or a vaccine has been developed, we expect that existing ships will require some modification, as will vessels under construction,” he explains. “There’ll be some changes to vessel operation, and we may need different luggage handling systems, for example. After the virus, there might be a temperature scanner in every cruise terminal. This is why we are working closely with medical institutions to learn more about mitigating the risk of spreading infectious diseases onboard cruise ships and offer guidance to support our clients.”
At the same time, Bollerman says the industry should not lose sight of sustainability goals. “Class rules and statutory regulations must have shared goals around minimum carbon impact while maintaining high safety standards,” he says. “An effort should be made to establish these goals in the most practical way and avoid over-complicated solutions that will jeopardise safety and environmental goals. Essential class components will still relate to the structure of the vessel and the technical solutions for propulsion and power generation and distribution. Any novel components relating to these will have to be assessed as essential class components.”
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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