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Predictive technology, the offshore sector and crew travel: What’s possible?

The shipping industry is one of the most technologically advanced in the world when it comes to areas such as training, ship maintenance and servicing, but the management of crew changes and crew travel are often left out of the discussion.

However, the development of innovative predictive technology that has been created for the marine sector can help to solve the historical challenges that marine organisations face for crew travel.

Risk management for crew travel

When planning crew rotations crew managers must now consider the variety of health requirements imposed by border controls, airlines, airports and ports (medical tests, quarantine time, PPEs, additional time spent onshore etc), all whilst dealing with the uncertainty fostered by the fact that a global safety standard has not yet been agreed and adopted by industry bodies.

Predictive technology will be able to present crew managers and those responsible with a dashboard that highlights all essential information for their chosen route. In some instances, it might then be able to show the impact that different travel restrictions measures will have on the vessel’s chosen route.

Recently, there has understandably been more talk of risk assessment and health and safety practices than ever before. However, the movement of crew has always contained risk – particularly for crew working in more remote, complex, and volatile parts of the world.

The threat of piracy or violent crime once crew have arrived at their destination is something that crew managers must mitigate against when arranging travel, but finding accurate, real-time information in an efficient way is challenging.

Using hundreds of relevant data sources, as well as insight taken from previous routes, predictive technology can give crew managers an accurate assessment of how likely a security threat is to occur on a particular route.

Reduced crew travel costs

Cost continues to remain a priority for crew managers, particularly within the context of an unstable global economy. With travel coming in as the second biggest cost next to crew salary for marine organisations, crew managers play an important role in balancing and managing budgets.

In the marine sector cost is intrinsically linked to efficiency. Delays and interruptions that prevent crew from being where they need to be, whether that’s on a vessel or at an airport waiting for a connecting flight, have a cumulative effect on the bottom line. Crew managers try their best to mitigate this by evaluating the data available and working with travel partners and port agents to try and select the most effective crew change routes.

Alternatively, predictive technology can quickly analyse port restrictions, flight restrictions and known security risks in seconds. When integrated with travel booking tools, this technology can then also assess the cost of different crew change options and vessel routes, meaning that crew managers can make travel decisions before any costs are incurred.

Efficient crew changes

There can be huge costs involved in crew being late to a vessel. The travel itineraries of the crew can change in minutes, particularly with new travel guidance and restrictions being enforced around the world, and so crew managers are now keen to find ways to minimise the impact that this has on timings and deadlines. Repeated delays and setbacks can waste a lot of time, resources and money.

Due to how quickly and unpredictably the pandemic has developed, the amount of manual processes and administration involved in executing a successful crew change has vastly increased and so managing crew travel efficiently has become more challenging.

Whereas once many of the steps involved in managing a crew change could be automated using sector-specific travel technology and workflow systems, this has had to be scaled back in order to ensure that travel is booked and managed in line with the latest local travel restrictions and guidance. Although these additional processes are necessary if crew are to be kept safe and travel is to be kept compliant, they require more time and resources, which increases the amount of time it takes to manage a single crew rotation.

Predictive technology can aid this process not only by being able to gather relevant information regarding travel restrictions at the touch of a button but also by being able to automate many of the manual processes involved in scheduling crew changes, such as contacting port agents.

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