Arranging service or repair for onboard equipment can sometimes feel like navigating a maze, each turning of a corner throwing up another hurdle to getting things right. But with some planning and guidance you can make sure you keep the process running smoothly and efficiently.
There are always three parties involved in a service - the owner/operator, the ship and the service provider. And all three want to complete the job successfully and efficiently. But things don’t always go to plan. From time to time, there will be unscheduled services because of breakdowns or malfunctions. Add to that the fact that oftentimes there are imprecise descriptions of equipment and incorrect problem diagnosis which can cause unnecessary inconvenience and cost. In the worst of cases, ships could be delayed in port.
To find your way out of the shipping service maze there are a number of things you have to consider. Here we list the five ways to make sure the service or repair of onboard equipment doesn’t become a hassle.
1. Give the correct equipment specification
You have to let the service provider have all relevant details such as make, type, model, serial number, voltage, and rpm. Providing all the technical specifications you can, and quoting everything on the equipment’s nameplate will ensure that fewer mistakes are made. In this case, too much information is better than too little.
2. Consider the when and where
Once the service provider has all the details of what the problem is and what needs to be done, consider the issues of location. If there is time, is there the possibility of a more suitable and reasonable port being used to perform the service. If so, this could save you a lot of money. But you’ll need to know a number of things. For example, does the service provider have qualified personnel in the port? Does he ask for different rates in different ports? Will the service provider have enough time to complete the scope of work?
3. Think through logistics
Find out if it is necessary to bring tools or equipment to the service or repair job, and if equipment needs to be sent, remember airfreight takes longer than air travel. You need to make sure you think about custom and immigration issues and that the provider has all the necessary information to allow for quick and hassle-free entry to the country.
It can sometimes take weeks to get visas for countries, and the nationality of the service personnel can sometimes be an issue.
And what about when the service is finished? Will you arrange transport to return any tools or equipment to the provider? Thinking through the logistics can ensure that many hassles go unavoided.
4. Secure contracts
You should consider contractual agreements for all your equipment requiring regular service and recertification such as lifesaving, firefighting, navigation and communications equipment. The contracts can just be simple agreements for fixed rates per ship - or they can go as far as the service provider owning the equipment and taking responsibility for its full operation and proper certification at all times.
There are a number of variations of contracts, but ultimately each owner/operator has to decide what is best for them. The most important thing is to have a system in place.
5. Plan for additional work
It happens all the time. When a service engineer finally gets on board, the chief engineer or master may ask them to do an extra job on the side. Of course, this will add to the original estimate and could cause confusions over the service provider’s invoice.
To counter this, be sure to have a clear policy set out in the first instance. For example, do the officers have the authority to approve or do they need it from a superintendent? The service provider should have this kind of thing in writing so that there is no cause for misunderstanding.
Always make sure that agreements between the service engineer and shipboard officer is communicated straight away to the owner and the service provider.
Want more advice? Find out five other ways to navigate the shipping service maze by becoming a member of the International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA). As a member, you’ll be able to access our extensive library and resources section, which contains a wealth of advice on working in marine procurement and supply chain management.