Like all types of vehicular transportation, boats aren’t infallible. Everything from personal watercraft to the world’s biggest cargo ships can easily be left dead in the water – quite literally – by the failure of a single component or the complete breakdown of a critical mechanical system.
To reduce the odds of being hampered by unexpected repairs, commercial boat operators and shipbuilders turn to a proven strategy: planned maintenance.
Incorporating a planned maintenance schedule for your vessels can improve reliability, reduce running costs, and enhance crew safety, among other benefits. Let’s take a closer look to discover just why planned maintenance is a favored servicing approach in the maritime industry.
Planned maintenance is the proactive scheduling and performing of important service procedures. Companies and operators with a well-designed maintenance plan will understand when future servicing will be required, what tools and parts will be needed, and how the job should be completed. In short, these plans are comprehensive how-to guides telling you what, when, and how to repair or service the vessel.
Having that kind of detailed handbook at your disposal has several advantages. The following list outlines some specific benefits that planned maintenance strategies offer shipbuilders and operators.
As any commercial ship owner knows, compliance looms large in the maritime industry. Laws and legal stipulations have been established to ensure that a vessel is fit for safe passage, and the proper upkeep of a ship’s most critical operational and safety equipment factors heavily into remaining compliant with these regulatory frameworks.
Shipbuilders and operators can keep their vessels up to code by establishing processes to regularly verify a ship’s condition and proactively perform any repairs, replacement or testing. Using resources like model-specific maintenance guides, marine-grade asset specification tags, or online ship management programs are ways operators can reliably make sure both users and inspectors know the service needs of each onboard system or component. Metalphoto® Aluminum Signs, placed in the right locations, can provide crew members with essential safety and maintenance information, and labeling parts and equipment with durable Metalphoto asset tags allows for streamlined, error-free documentation when maintenance activities are performed.
The results of these efforts can be documented in a planned maintenance system, or PMS, which acts as a centralized database that houses service history, audit results, and other documentation required for regulatory compliance. Various PMS software solutions are now available, such as DNV’s ShipManager Technical or the MAMS Planned Maintenance System from SDSD.
Using such a system isn’t just a good idea – the International Safety Management Code mandates it. This codification is a key governance tool applicable to commercial ships of all classes and types. By establishing a planned maintenance and reporting strategy that incorporates the requirements put forth by the ISM Code, you won’t only have a safer fleet – you’ll also be abiding by international maritime laws.
Mechanically, boats and ships aren’t so different from cars and trucks – they all feature complex drivetrains and ancillary systems that are necessary for proper operation. And just as your car benefits from regular servicing intervals, the same is true with any vessel. Preventive maintenance ultimately reduces the likelihood of unexpected repairs, leading to less downtime, lower service costs and a host of other benefits.
In the maritime industry, it’s almost a given that ship operators follow a preventive maintenance approach due to the expense, complexity, and danger of emergency offshore servicing. By establishing a plan for performing critical maintenance while docked, you’ll reduce both unnecessary downtime as well as risk to the crew, resulting in safer, lower-cost voyages.
Small issues can quickly snowball into much larger, costlier problems when not addressed. Hull cleaning, for instance, is a routine maintenance item that removes barnacles and other sea life from a ship’s bottom. What happens if you don’t regularly scrape off what’s growing on your vessels’ hulls? The resulting drag could lead to dramatically worse performance and fuel economy, which translates to higher fuel costs and, in the worst-case scenario, potential mechanical issues. The net effects of these consequences will almost certainly cost more in outright repairs and downtime than regular hull cleaning.
This is just one example of what happens when you defer important maintenance items. However, the point it illustrates is a universal truth: preventive maintenance is often the best insurance against unexpected downtime, which is not only frustrating but also expensive. Every day a ship is out of commission, your business is losing the revenue it would have otherwise generated. Depending on the size and scope of your operations, a sidelined ship could also have ripple effects throughout your organization, including delayed shipments or deliveries and unhappy customers.
All this comes back to the old sayings about an ounce of prevention and a pound of cure. Take the time upfront to inspect and maintain the condition of your ship and you’ll be rewarded with a more reliable vessel that can, in the long run, save you considerable money, time, and headache.
A ship’s crew is the linchpin of any seafaring venture. Their efforts – often in grueling conditions on rough seas and always far from home – enable a vast portion of the world’s cargo to reach their final destinations around the globe. Protecting these sailors and deckhands from the many occupational hazards they face daily isn’t just the ethical thing to do – it’s one of the primary focuses of both maritime safety regulations and ship management systems.
It’s easy to build crew safety into your vessel’s maintenance plan. Ship safety management systems – another required element of ISM Code – compile all the relevant standards, regulations, checklists, and other information your seagoing ventures may be subject to within a single database. These resources can then be referenced during preventive maintenance initiatives such as quick visual inspections or more involved audits, allowing you to react quickly to any potential safety issues before they become of more serious concern.
A happy crew, full compliance with applicable standards, and peace of mind knowing your ships are as ready as ever for the open water – these goals are much more attainable when you incorporate planned maintenance into your marine ownership strategy.