Providing the right ENC service at the right time is vital

May 01 2014

As can be seen from our Satcoms feature on pages 26-32 May TO issue, it is now much easier to send electronic data to vessels, as the satcoms service providers are increasingly offering more bandwidth and transmission speeds at little extra cost.

This service can only improve still further once Inmarsat and Intelsat introduce their new products.

 The cost of using satcoms will also continue to fall in relative terms, as the service providers increase the scope of their offerings.

One of the big three in terms of distributing global charts is Oslo headquartered Nautisk Forlag. For example, of the 140 plus UKHO charts agents, only three have a worldwide portfolio coverage, of which Nautisk is one.

At the end of March, Nautisk received DNV GL approval for the company’s Neptune Pay as you Sail (PAYS) solution.

PAYS enables users to access global ENCs for use with on board ECDIS systems, while only paying for those that are actually used. Peter Pran, Nautisk global sales manager said:“Despite a positive market outlook, demands on shipowners and vessel operators to make cost savings and optimise operational efficiency are continuing to increase. We are working with our customers to find bespoke solutions that enable them to benefit fully from our global portfolio of ENCs through an ondemand system.

“Our PAYS solution gives both shore-based and on board teams access to any number of ENCs that may be required for one particular trading route. ENCs are downloaded onto the ECDIS for planning purposes and we then track the vessel. As the vessel sails through a particular area, the shipowner is charged for the use of those ENCs only.”

As no hardware installations are required to use the service, additional on board equipment is not required. The system is fully compliant with SOLAS regulations and take-up has so far been positive, he claimed.

Pran added: “We know that where voyage planning is concerned, one size does not always fit all, and many of our customers are choosing to combine PAYS with our pre-paid service, which means ENCs are available in advance,” he explained.

In conversation with Tanker Operator, he further explained that the main advantage of digital downloading was that it could be undertaken the same day as the order is submitted, as opposed to waiting for a CD to be delivered when a vessel arrives at a port. Only the ENCs are downloaded for which the shipowner has a license.

During a voyage planning exercise, all the ENC cells needed for a particular voyage can be identified and ordered digitally.

Nautisk’s Neptune is a real-time vessel information service compatible with both bridge and shore-based systems. The data is downloaded on demand. It is essentially a vessel information system which takes away the dayto- day administration of ENCs and other downloads.

It works by combining electronic Notices from British Admiralty, the Norwegian Hydrographic Service and NOAA with an update service for ENC cells from the UKHO and PRIMAR and also includes marine management tools, digital IMO publications, reports, weather forecasting, routing, online news and information.

Nautisk has been supplying maritime charts and publications to commercial shipping since 1896. It has had a strong focus on the shipping market since its beginnings as the chart division of NHST.

Pran explained that fully staffed warehouse centres have been set up in Oslo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bristol (UK) and New Orleans, as the company has invested heavily in expansion during the past couple of years. This allows Nautisk to offer a 24/7 service covering every time zone by employing specialists at each of its centres and to cater for the so called ‘rush’ orders, where a vessel needs to divert from its original route.

A former serving Norwegian Navy navigation officer, Pran thought that an ECDIS should purely be used for navigation. All the various layers now available should be installed on the back of the bridge in a monitoring station, he said, as the prime reason for fitting an ECDIS could be lost in the detail.

Proper procedures should also be put in place by the shipowner/manager covering the bridge team management. For example, when an alarm goes off on the bridge, the bridge team should deal with it, according to the procedures laid down by the company.

He also explained that down the years, Nautisk had built up considerable expertise inhouse using both academics and former serving navigation officers, which he thought was an important contribution to the company’s success - a mixture of theory and practice in the use of electronic charts.

For ECDIS training purposes, he said that the preferred method was beginning with computer-based training (CBT) followed by practical training on board ship using a system with an experienced navigator.

In the future, Pran thought that to cater for possible ECDIS malfunctions, an exchange service could be introduced whereby the damaged system is taken away for repair and immediately replaced on board by another identical ECDIS, thus keeping up with the IMO’s twin ECDIS ruling.

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