“New innovations and technology make satcoms a necessary investment, not a cost”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This quarter we are pleased to present an interview with Mr. George Pitaoulis, Crewing Manager at ABC Maritime. ABC Maritime AG is a Swiss based, family owned ship-management company, enjoying a long tradition of providing high quality technical management thanks to a technical team of ex seagoing engineers and deck officers. Today the company manages in excess of 30 vessels, comprising a mix of tankers, bulkers and offshore. The company has installed a mix of the FleetBroadband GB plans and XpressLink, combined with Infinity, to both provide their crew with high speed internet as part of their Crew Welfare and enhance the quality of business communications between their offices and shore.


Has the benefit of greater bandwidth through XpressLink/larger FBB plans helped ABC with crew retention? ‘With retention of officers north of 90%, I have to admit that a part of it is based on the ability of our crew to enjoy a broadband connectivity on board our fleet. Though I would contest that broadband on board should be considered as an “extra benefit” but should be something that is expected to have on board. Even in MLC’06, there is reference to the ability of the crew to utilize communication systems to contact their loved ones.’


Has it also helped business communications? ‘With the dramatically reduced MB/$ rate, we have now the ability to send files that we would think twice (or three times) in the past. Sending a picture (yes, a picture can better describe some instances better than words) is not a taboo anymore. Also, we can now facilitate higher data exchange between vessel and local port agents, something that would require in the past to be done via fax and therefore need our crew to spend more time to record the data in the required forms. Now we get the form in softcopy and our officers can easier, faster and with fewer mistakes populate the required information.’


What are you able to do now that was not possible with the slower, more expensive per MB communications? ‘Having installed communication servers on board, we have now the ability to solve all software problems without the need of a physical presence of IT personnel. They just log into the vessels server and remotely solve any issues as well as doing maintenance on the hard disks etc. Therefore, it not only allowing savings on the MB rates but saves the time one would need to physically attend the vessel.’


Is remote training used at all? ‘All of our vessels are currently subscribed with a major provider for Computerized Based Training. We are able to alter the CBT courses offered on board remotely. Moreover, we can access the progress of our seagoing personnel training at any moment, taking into account that the data is being communicated between vessel & shore multiple times per day.’


Does the Infinity VOIP service between office and ship result in real savings? ‘Picking up your VOIP telephone and calling the 3 digit vessel number is way more easy (and even more economical) than ever before. In the past, the prudent and cost conscious shore based staff would contact the vessel via an email, asking them to call back or make a short call to the vessel asking them to call back. This was done due to the fact that prices were very different when vessel to shore would be less than USD1/minute and the other way around would be multiple times that.’


Are there any other features of Infinity that ABC is finding particularly useful? ‘We can retrieve detailed data about the usage of the communication systems on board and intervene in case of need, as well as advise the Master of any irregularities we may notice, prior being invoiced. ‘

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