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Today’s Key To Tomorrow’s Software Is Integration
A ship is an ecosystem with many equipment manufacturers providing components that become integrated. The diverse needs of the ship, which explains the diverse expertise of the manufacturers, has yet to favour a single manufacturer for everything.
What applies in the Marine industry applies also to the Oil industry and to Manufacturing.
So why are ecosystems not yet fully recognised in software applications?
Because the integration was not there. Integration is the key to the future of good software as it has been in any other industry.
Sure enough, integration in software is a challenge. Nonetheless it is a surmountable challenge if we recognise that integration is the study of how real-world processes and actors’ work. In other words, if we recognize that information is generated, captured, and consumed in real world processes and then emulated in software.
Integration, therefore, is not only about how information is translated from data point to data point, which has been the dominant paradigm in software integration; just like translation is only a small part of understanding text in another language. For example, integrating crewing and maintenance and ships operations requires knowledge of how crew members affect each maintenance and ship operation process. It is not just assigning job completion in one application to the name of a crewmember in another.
To sum up, the marine software that ship managers use, form ecosystems, which will require more and more integrations due to the technical advances of Industry 4.0 and new and changing regulations. Ship Managers will rightly require that data from each system must be integrable and forwardly compatible; they will favour integrations that bring together all their systems.
Scoring Goals With Software: A Best Of Breed Approach
A successful football team does not just agree when to pass the ball
In football practice, team members discuss and demonstrate their moves in various scenarios.
Software Integration is similar in that it is not a translation from a source to a destination. It is an understanding of what each participant does and is likely to do with the shared information. Restricting this to data field exchange assumes no one will vary the scenarios. It also does not reflect how integration improves enterprise productivity.
There are at least three reasons why integrating software systems improves productivity:
Integration holds together an eco-system of standalone best of breed software applications.
It is instrumental for developing new software quickly.
It extends existing software, allowing enterprises to adapt to new industry requirements.
A best of breed approach to software is realistic because it merges the best in your existing software with your latest needs while laying the ground for future needs.
The question is which vendor will make sure you achieve the highest productivity from your software? Vendors who care about productivity, who know the marine industry like the backs of their hands and who care about how your systems integrate.
The KPI Challenge
Key Performance indicators (KPI) and other related indicators are often hard to compare case by case or year on year. One reason is that each process has various aspects from a causal standpoint:
A machinery defect or non-conformance can have many causes. Which one is to be selected as a KPI?
Perhaps the immediate effect of a defect or non-conformance is not so varied but this can vary too
So risk or potential effects for the same defect or non-conformance can vary greatly.
In fact, we spend days or even weeks each year preparing KPI, but do they help the management and decision making going forward ?
Simpler data to reconcile such as data descriptions of spare parts or crew members’ experience descriptions involve less options. Even so we run into description variance requiring an important decision regarding which variances could constitute the KPI.
Integrating varied data points
We often hear about data driven decision making. How can we do this without reconciling data?
We as humans manage to reconcile varied data points because we understand how they are generated. But this is not always consistent in systems as there are often many considerations before we can arrive at a merging of data points.
Integration and Data Unification Are the Same Challenge
Reconciling data and integration have the same set of concerns. It is about knowing how the data generated. So before it attracts attention as a data point useful for decision making, it is important to recognise how it is generated.
Caring about data
For KPI to work, someone has to care. Someone who is committed to the domain and to extracting the data to assist decisions.
Task Assistant Integrated Reporting
“144,235 unique inventory items in stock,
469,551 inventory transactions”
At Gaslog critical spares are auto-replenished
No crew member has to check for or order critical spares, which ensures peace of mind in both the office, but also on-board
After a requisition has been automatically raised, it is sent to the relevant role for approval before being dispatched to the office
Click on Read More to find out Integrated Reporting… Unified Data… Informative Data Trends…
Inventory Management integrates with Maintenance and Procurement.
This means Task Assistant ® enables spares consumption to be linked to scheduled and unscheduled maintenance
Replenishment is recorded seamlessly at PO delivery and storage locations can be assigned at a later date.
Task Assistant ® integrated applications mean that data is unified. This is a very strong argument in favour of a system that, by design, guarantees meaningful reports and data trends
Informative Data Trends
Task orientation is a core Task Assistant ® principle that ensures software emulates on-board work. It is the principle that promotes integrated reporting. The benefit is that reporting is effortless since the system by default understands the link between Maintenance, Procurement and Inventory management tasks.
As a result, related processes share the rich data, making decisions and information all the easier
Task Assistant® Central Components Library
The Central Components Library
Ulysses Central or Μaster Component Library and vessel component setups constitute one system that reflects the real world of how machines are built and how they are maintained, and assures data integrity to support your decisions associated with these activities.
Why it is important
Machines are built in factories for many ships and industry applications.
It stands to reason that machines exist as meaningful functional components outside any particular ship, and behave in much the same way, regardless of where they are installed, although the conditions under which they work may differ.
So it makes sense to build software that models the world of machinery in a way that acknowledges the commonalities of machines, regardless of which ship they are in, and also captures machine ship duty, which is the live ship specific data that will affect the decisions about the machines.
Click on Read More to find out How it works… What it resolves… Some of the benefits…
How it works
The Central Components Library is a database of ships’ technical components; each component with its spare parts, maintenance information and full history, stored centrally and linked to common core descriptions.
Instances of components per ship are derived from the Central Library while retaining the core commonality of identifications.
New information from ship’s duty and requisitions is completed locally but also available centrally.
What it resolves
This is in contrast to defining each of these components individually, thus introducing different identifications for each ship when in fact they are the same machines with just serial number difference. Since components are originally sourced from the same manufacturers, who define the ways in which we identify parts and perform procurement, it is the natural approach to retain unified information for the same machinery and parts across the fleet.
Some of the benefits
An assets management system with a central component library favours statistical comparisons and offers overviews of component maintenance and procurement which makes it a very powerful tool in controlling and optimising life-cycle costs.
Cloud and Data Trending
UNIFIED DATA IS A MATTER OF REALLY CARING
Insights from data trends
When the discussion is data trending, software vendors need to focus on data being unified. The reason is that, in 2020, marine enterprises are keener than ever to gain insights into their cloud hosted data
There are concerns, however. If component and spares ID’s are not unified then the trending can only start after the data has been unified. In which case, the question that begs to be answered is, how do you introduce unified technical data retroactively?
Or do vendor offerings concern only data that will be produced in the future?
How appealing and forward-looking is a system, which does not consider trending on existing data?
LET’S TALK “COORDINATION”
Dry-docking is high consequence work. This means that the people involved are highly paid for their time and attention. Also, technical projects are expensive and fraught with co-ordination challenges that require diligence and smart thinking. They therefore require decision-making support and information dissemination at the time of need, which Ulysses specialises in.
In Software Too, Teamwork Is Best
In software, ‘teamwork’ or ‘teambuilding’ translates into ‘ecosystem of IT Systems’. And ecosystems translate into ‘integrated ecosystems.’ So, as in football, a team cannot exist without teambuilding and teamwork, in software an ecosystem of IT Systems requires integration. Integration fulfils the role the manager fulfils for a football team.
Let’s take this analogy a few steps further.
In software, systems integration requires the stakeholders to be close, just as in football, where owner, manager and players need to be close.
And as in football, the stakeholders need to communicate their moves.
And the language needs to be common.
What is the problem today with integration? 2
In Football practice team members discuss and demonstrate their moves in various scenarios. They don’t just agree when to pass the ball.
Integration is similar in that it’s not a translation from a source to a destination.
It is an understanding of what each participant does and is likely to do with the shared information.
Restricting this to data field exchange is similar to agreeing when to pass a ball: It assumes no one will vary the scenarios.
In a world where computers are undisputedly productivity tools, we can’t slow down productivity improvements either via monolithic applications or by applying unsophisticated integration. We need teamwork.
What is the problem today with integration? 1
Perhaps the same problem as the focus on team work.
Before computing became an essential productivity tool, the benefits from constant improvement were not obvious.
For example, bringing all your information together for a purchasing decision and not having to access e-mails and applications separately.
Similarly, before football reached today’s level of sophistication, having one star player in a provincial team was good enough. But to compete in world class football, team management is not an afterthought. Software is similar…
Software is similar, in that productivity can increase tremendously going forward.
We can think of the software vendors, who can increase the productivity of an enterprise, as being the star players.
Can you expect one vendor to increase your productivity to the highest level possible in every module? If not who will make sure you can access the highest productivity in every module?
People that care about productivity and know the marine business like the backs of their hands.
People that care about how your systems integrate with the highest productivity tools.
Configurability : Orion Bulkers
In Shipmanagement the brittle companies falter whilst the pliable prevail.
Regulations change, opinions change, management changes …
All of the above are not only possible, but likely if not inevitable within the lifecycle of your Shipmanagement solution and while your company may be prepared for these scenarios, that does not mean that your software is.
At Ulysses we have come across countless companies that know exactly what they want to change, how they want to change and until when.
The only thing holding them back is the brittleness of their software.
Ulysses offers a configurable platform that can be torn down and built from scratch without losing historical data at a pace that is faster than other systems get deployed.
TA Mobile Applications – Now available on App Store and Google Play
For R10 clients, TA Mobile is now available for download on both Apple Store and Google Play Store!
Contact us to assist you setting it up!
Ulysses Customer Service: Arcadia Shipmanagement
Arcadia -established in Athens in 1998- was one of the first shipmanagers to adopt a computerized maintenance management system with the implementation of the Task Assistant in 2005
“At Arcadia Shipmanagement we have been using the Task Assistant since 2005
During this long period we have worked with many Ulysses consultants and support engineers
Solutions and dedication have been a continuing guarantee
Ulysses’ high staff retention rates have been very useful with a number of Ulysses people having served us for over a decade”
In 2007 Arcadia won the Lloyds list “Tanker Company of the year” and a Green Award certificate holder
Green Award certified companies and vessels are entitled to various incentives to encourage their socially responsible behavior.
All of Arcadia’s vessels fly the Greek flag whilst placing great importance to the long tradition of Greece being at the forefront of the Maritime Industry.
Arcadia also hosts the offices of Olympiacos Basketball Club which has seen the most successful years of its history under the current management
Task Assistant and ShipServ
ShipServ is a leading e-Procurement platform for the marine industry
Task Assistant Asset Management software is enhanced by a streamlined procurement process that is enabled by its integration with ShipServ
Task Assistant data quality facilitates a more comprehensive leveraging of the value offered by ShipServ by:
– Offering better potential in discovering trends through management reports
– Assisting shipmanagers in increasing economies of scale
Exmar Upgrades all 45 vessels to latest Task Assistant version
Most recently Exmar Shipmanagement upgraded to the latest version of the Task Assistant.
It was a five version leap which is both unusual and challenging and many new features were enabled for users
The upgrade required good preparation, planning and execution by the joint Exmar and Ulysses teams
Execution was even trickier considering that three vessels had planned vetting inspections at the time of the upgrade, but in the end disruption and downtime were both minimal
The vessels that had planned audits continued to use the previous version until the inspections were concluded and were then subsequently upgraded
Users went home on Friday closing having worked on the previous version and on Monday at opening went straight to using the latest version
About Task Assistant Upgrades
Ulysses produces regular TA upgrades which are available to all users upon release.
TA upgrades are interoperable which allow vessels to operate on different versions.
This eliminates the risks of upgrade execution, ensuring a smooth transition from one version to another.
All shipmanagers that have used the TA have successfully upgraded multiple versions.
Hotfixes are installed automatically on all workstations and on every version.
TA Inventory: Results Matter – Gaslog
No crew member has to check for or order critical spares, a process that ensures peace of mind in both the office, but also on-board
After a requisition has automatically been raised, it is sent to the relevant role for approval before dispatched to the office
TA enables spares consumption to be linked to scheduled and unscheduled maintenance
Replenishment is recorded seamlessly at PO delivery and storage locations can be assigned at a later date
Task Orientation ensures that software emulates on-board work
TA Inventory: Results Matter – Naftomar
Under FiFo, the oldest costs will be the first costs of consumables to be removed from the balance sheet.
By first consuming the oldest spare, Naftomar significantly reduces the risk of inventory obsolescence.
Most impressive are the high levels of company buy-in to produce such precision.
Check out how Naftomar have been using TA Inventory Assistant facilities to monitor the quality and value of their inventory.
About the Task Assistant Inventory Management
The Task Assistant facilitates FiFo uniquely and at every step of the way.
TA Inventory Management Applications produce FiFo as part of normal PMS use which significantly reduces workload on-board and ashore.
Consumption and Deliveries are properly reported as a by-product of fluid and flexible workflows offered by Task Assistant Workbench Facilities.
Inventory reporting therefore comes automatically without extra effort.
Bying Software…or new Nikes? ERP Implementation Failures
It doesn’t take a an expert of even a professional to know about ERP implementation failures.
According to Gartner 70% of ERP projects take too long to implement, overshoot their budget – and most importantly – don’t deliver the expected business benefits.
The cost of these ERP implementations can be so high that they can bring even the biggest corporations to their knees.
The good news for shipping companies is that an ERP project will not cause that level of disruption:
Shipping company success and failure is almost entirely dependent on buying and selling vessels at the right time and avoiding large operational fiascos.
This lower risk for shipping companies has historically led to complacency in choosing the right ERP vendor:
For example we see far too many shipping companies choosing to develop their own solutions, a very rare phenomenon in any other industry.
At Ulysses we have never had a failed implementation. We take pride in the fact that that we have never had a client that has stayed with us for less than a decade: well beyond the lifespan of the average ERP project.
Our honest recommendation to companies looking to make an ERP implementation?
If it’s not broken don’t fix it!
Even if that means encouraging a company not to switch to the Task Assistant.
There are too many shipping companies getting little or negative value from their software and only a couple -we won’t name them- of providers that can offer a decent solution:
If you feel you are one of these shipping companies, the Task Assistant is the solution for you!
R10 Release! includes the NEW Event Coordination Management Application (ECM).
Available to all the Task Assistant users with the next upgrade.
Buying Software or… new Nikes? ERP Configuration
Leave the customisations for your outfits. In software ‘configuration’is the word.
At Ulysses we understand that all companies are different, which is why we offer abstracted features ready to be extended or consumed through our Task Assistant Workbench and API Facilities.
In the maritime ERP world today, dinosaurs exist!
ERP solutions, which originated in the 80’s and 90’s, were developed to simplify the book-keeping process and improve its accuracy. The goal was straight forward: let’s record “how much we spend”.
Discovering “Why we spend” was then unsuccessfully attempted through reports that broke costs down into cost centres and SFI codes.
Surprisingly, even the most recent maritime ERP solutions have taken this book-keeping centric design, hoping that “latest fashion” in technologies might bring them up to date, rather like dinosaurs dressing-up… because in the maritime ERP world today, dinosaurs are dressing up in the latest fashion!
Ulysses Systems CMMS design started from Maintenance with Purchasing and Accounting as supporting functions, not vice versa, because expenses recorded in Accounting systems and incurred through Purchasing systems depend on technical concerns. Unless the technical concerns are addressed, we cannot evaluate the expenses.
The type of concerns current in the industry and needing answers being:
- Why do we need this expensive spare part so often?
- How can this specific pump run so many hours without maintenance on one vessel and not on another?
- How much will we be spending on our assets in the future?
The why and the how must accompany the purchase and the expense that we register in accounting.
The result of focusing primarily on accounting breaks down our industry, and especially the technical part, into broad categories that can only serve for comparing a coarsely grouped set of expenses from year to year.
The drawback is that these broad categories do not tell us why we incur expenses or how to mitigate them. They don’t even help attract attention to problem areas, since technical problems are solved at the root, which is technical, and not via aggregated expense groups unrelated to what caused them.
Technical questions were built into the Task Assistant ® architecture, which is why today the TA is a benchmark for maintenance systems in the maritime industry.
The conversation today shifts towards high-ROI features and real value creations. We believe that a gradual and consistent transition towards a business-centred direction is valuable for the entire marine industry.
TA Mobile Application
R10 Release! includes the NEW TA Mobile Application.
Available to all the Task Assistant users with the next upgrade.