In the depths of a longer-than-expected shipping market downturn and with many shipowners struggling with cash flow, Martek Marine, leading manufacturer of maritime safety equipment, believes that its comprehensive leasing package offers the best option for shipowners to adopt ECDIS early and benefit from increased safety and lower costs.
Rock-bottom freight rates, ever-rising operational costs and looming regulation requiring significant investment in a range of new equipment mean that many owners may be tempted to wait until the deadline to implement ECDIS. However, Martek believes that this is a wasted opportunity for shipowners, ECDIS product specialist Bentley Strafford-Stephenson says:
“DNV research has shown that deploying ECDIS may reduce grounding frequency by at least 30%.
Grounding is the third most frequent accident involving ships larger than 100GT and the fourth highest contributor to marine fatalities at 12%. Offering a leasing option is crucial to give shipowners the opportunity to increase safety and limit risk immediately. Early adopters also benefit from crew having longer to become accustomed to using ECDIS, allowing them to become competent and confident without the pressure of IMO’s deadline.”
Early ECDIS adoption also offers savings in time and cost over paper charts, eliminating the logistical challenge of having paper charts delivered to ships and the time required to manually update them. Furthermore, route planning using current weather and tidal data can cut transit times and save fuel.
Shipowners who lease, rather than buy, benefit from their ships always having the most advanced ECDIS systems as the difference between a two and five year old system can be significant due to technological developments.
Martek’s own iECDIS, which will be launched mid-2013, is powered by Jeppesen and provides solutions to three problems that it believes other systems have ignored; a leasing option to help with implementation costs; a cutting edge design and interface that mariners actually want to use; and an end to logistical difficulties with a complete, bespoke package of ECDIS products and services, including consultation, installation, training, charts, and after sale support.
Mr Strafford-Stephenson believes that Martek’s leasing model is just one of the elements required to increase early adoption of the system by shipowners:
“Providing charts and training as part of a comprehensive ECDIS package eases many of the logistical difficulties around implementation and means all support comes from one supplier, while offering units with a leasing option removes high upfront costs at a time when many companies are struggling with cash flow. Committed use of ECDIS can improve safety, increase efficiency and reduce collisions, and manufacturers should be doing everything they can to make implementation easier for shipowners.”