Robust, reliable communications key to vessel efficiency and crew morale
23 April 2013 –Beltship Management Limited (BML) has deployedInmarsat's FleetBroadband Unlimited service across allsix of the bulk carriers it manages for Brazilian-based Vale, the world's second-largest mining company.The ‘all-you-can-eat” service was installed by Inmarsat partner AND Group plc, a provider of global satellite and engineering services, followinga review of the Inmarsat-enabled communications service by Beltship, which had previously been reviewing competing VSAT solutions.
Beltship's requirements were for a new communications solution that would provide a more robust, capable and cost efficient service, delivering a large data allowance that would cover both the operational needs of the vessels and for use by crew during the three month round-trip between Brazil and China. Beltship were also seeking a provider that could offer IT set-up and support for their terminals and internet cafés via service departments located around the world.
“Our vessels spend many weeks crossing the ocean, so robust, reliable communications with good through-put rates is of high importance,” said Marjolijn van Tiel, Purchasing Manager at Beltship. “We had evaluated many options but, following discussions with AND Group, we realised that the combined support solution they were offering includingtheir IPSignature software and FleetBroadband Unlimited would answer all our requirements.
“We are already seeing the benefits. Now that the main bridge PC has unlimited internet access, it is easier for our Chief Engineers and Captains to receive real-time information to support operational decision making. For example, we can send them links with weather information or routing data, wherever they are in the world.” continues Marjolijn. “In case of emergencies, like a change of port, we can forward links to the relevant charts and port information. This was previously impossible due to size limitations of email traffic.”
Crew morale is a key consideration for Beltship; an approach that they hold in common with the vessels' owners Vale. The introduction of free crew internet access, with unlimited access to the web, is part of a broader crew welfare initiative, which also includes a gym and entertainment supplies like musical instruments, darts and movies on each vessel.
“With an average of 23 officers and crew per vessel, the cost of providing free access to the internet during a voyage lasting months was a key consideration for Beltship “, said Anna Hilliard, Sales Manager at AND Group. “FleetBroadband Unlimited addressed this from the outset, enabling us to offer enhanced crew services whilst being able to guarantee fixed costs, regardless of how much time they spent online.”
“Our partners, like AND Group, have been helping to change the face of communication services for the maritime industry with innovative services like IPSignature,” said Frank Coles, President, Inmarsat Maritime. “We continually look at ways in which we can support them by providing greater value to our award-winning FleetBroadband service. FB Unlimited is proving immensely popular with our partners and their customersand is another way in which we are enabling vessel owners and operators to take advantage of the latest on-board technologies, confident in the knowledge that their communications costs are fixed, regardless of how much they may use.”
IPSignature and Crew Internet Cafe
The solution offered to Beltship was based around AND Group's IPSignature communications software, a platform that enables access to web-based applications to meet both the operational requirements of the vessel and crew communication needs. In addition, IPSignature provides full control and visibility of each vessel's communications and data usage.
IPSignature delivers the ability for shore-based ship managers to supervise settings and the access given to business and crew users on-board a vessel via the AND Web Portal. For example, ship managers can set up a whitelist and blacklist of approved websites.
The crew internet café consists of a network of PCs, pre-configured with IPSignature for easy access to applications such as web browsing, email, SMS and instant messaging. A mobile browser for web surfing ensures that data is loaded faster and makes for a better experience for the crew.
Today, all sixVale vessels -Ore Para, Ore Mangaratiba, Ore Belo Horizonte, Ore Itabira, Ore Timbopeba and Ore Pantanal – managed by Beltship feature FleetBroadband Unlimited and Crew Internet Cafés. The vessels access the Inmarsat global mobile satellite communications services through a mix of Thrane SAILOR FB500 and Furuno FB500 terminals.