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V.Group provides insight into 2020 ship management strategy

V.Group’s ship management operating model. Image courtesy of V.Group

Marine and offshore vessel management and support services provider V.Group is focussing its 2020 efforts on technical and training services to improve ship performance and meet decarbonisation goals, while ensuring that seafarer safety and well-being remain top priority.

Established in 1984, V.Group consists of three business legs, ship management, crew management, marine services. 2,200 vessels are served by V.Group with 44,000 seafarers employed. The company has 60 offices in 30 different countries and under its V.Ships brand, covers a network of 18 ship management offices supported by the main team based in Glasgow. The ship management team deliver ship technical services, risk management, procurement and financial services for the tanker, bulker, container, offshore, and leisure sectors. V.Ships also owns 100 per cent of Danish ship manger Dania Ship Management. VPO Global visited Dania’s headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark to find out more about the company’s plans for ship management in 2020.

Fleet Cell of the Future

In 2019, V.Group launched a new model of technical ship management and services. Fleet Cell of the Future is a technical ship management and marine support service that aims to help customers solve their problems creatively and be flexible to ensure best ship performance in an unpredictable and uncertain industry. The aim is to ensure customers have the local support and flawless service delivery they desire.

The fleet cell model enables a whole holistic view of the effectiveness of new approaches and solutions. By having these different ‘cells’ V. Group can understand how people are communicating with one another and how problems are being solved.

Capt. Franck Kayser, V.Group managing director, ship management

V.Group managing director ship management, Capt. Franck Kayser told journalists visiting the company that, “The most important thing for us is fleet cells. This is where we have technical expertise.”

Each role or department within a shipping company, such as fleet superintendent, marine superintendent, fleet procurement officers, assistant superintendent and vessel financial controller, are present in every cell.

According to V.Group, the result is a superintendent that spends less time on admin tasks, giving them more time to focus on the client and the vessels. Some functions – notably procurement – have now been moved into the fleet cell.

This moves the procurement team closer to the superintendents, and ultimately the customer, which will provide greater transparency and accountability to our customers. This more direct working relationship will also help the procurement team enhance its knowledge and understanding of the fleet cell activities.

The fleet cell structure will help to improve different processes that are involved in ship management, including technical ship management as well as crewing and other operations. New technologies and ways of operating will be assessed and tested within these cells.

V.Group has a number of partners in this fleet cell project. One of these is GNS, which is providing ENC data and vessel position information into the Fleet Cells. The idea is to improve vessel performance and reduce wasteful spending, according to GNS.

In 2020, V Ships laid out plans to refresh its fleet cell model and become the number one ship manager.

Mikkjal Poulsen, managing director Dania Ship Management

Mikkjal Poulsen, managing director Dania Ship Management, said that part of refreshing the fleet cell is to improve service delivery further. “We believe in good and flawless service delivery as it is a tool in itself to spread the name out. If you manage to work well and highly efficiently, then the owner will ask you to do more.”

V.Group’s ShipSure 2.0 digital platform

Digitalising strategy with ShipSure 2.0

All of V.Group’s fleet cells work on the company’s digital ship management platform, ShipSure 2.0. The digital platform delivers data-driven insights to a customer’s desktop or mobile device, helping with informed decision-making.

The platform, as well as facilitating efficient ship management, provides the opportunity for data mining, sharing of best practices and vessel performance analysis. It helps to manage lifecycle performance, can be used for environmental and compliance purposes, and for predictive health.

“It provides transparent interaction,” said Capt. Kayser. “As a customer you can follow all developments going on via ipads or other smart devices. It has more than 100 modules and so far has proven quite popular.”

The fleet cells also support crew business which is further enhanced by V. Ship’s digital ShipSure platform. “This is a digital platform to help manage assets, plan maintenance, pay crew etc. 1000s of things that have to come together to deliver expertise,” Capt. Kayser confirmed.

Centres of Expertise

V. Group is also focussing its efforts on building continuous learning and development into the fleet cells to facilitate their evolution. Capt. Kayser said this is particularly important with new and toughening regulations to meet, and the company is continuing to leverage a global network of experience, local knowledge and technical expertise to do this.

“It is so important that our colleagues in our fleet cells have the time and resources they need to focus on the customer and their vessels – engaging in meaningful dialogue, and constantly learning and enhancing their performance, while drawing on the wealth of resources contained within our global Centres of Expertise.”

These Centres of Expertise that V. Group has around the globe provide support to the fleet cells on critical areas of operation, such as: HSEQ/Tech, IT, Marine Services, finance, vessel accounting, vetting, supply chain, ShipSure 2.0 and crewing. “These centres support the interaction between the fleet cells and the customers. We refer customers to the experts in these departments and it is their job to support the fleet cells.”

Crew welfare

“Safety is a key priority for us at the moment, as is seafarer mental health,” Capt. Kayser confirmed. Part of V. Group’s efforts in 2020 will focus on further developing its V.Care programme, which addresses social, physical, psychological an spiritual issues. Capt. Kayser explained further, “By doing various exercises, being active, taking care of yourself, you earn points that can be used on amazon or platforms to buy gifts or use on oneself.”

Highlighting the importance of physical activity for both physical and mental health onboard ships, which leads to better operation of the ship, Capt. Kayser went on to say, “Every study is showing us that obesity, diabetes, etc are major problems. There is lots of repetitive work so respiratory issues are high on the list. Many seafarers are smoking and drinking coffee, and not living super healthy lives. The V.Care programme allows them to engage in physical and social exercise, encouraging interactions that require this.

“We have seen over years that with the internet access with fewer people onboard and more techs onboard, many isolate themselves in rooms. This is something we are trying to address.”

Capt Kayser went on to say that while V.Care is still relatively new, “we have anecdotal evidence from crew about it being positive.” He confirmed that it will take another year to get it fully rolled out.

One major challenge the group expects to come up against in rolling out the programme is the available time a seafarer has where he or she is free from duties. Often, this time is spent using the internet to connect with others and thereby eliminating the time that is spent socialising onboard or doing physical activity.

“We can also see that the hotline for psychological assistance or anxiety is quite big. Surveys are showing around half to one third of people are having issues with depression and anxiety while onboard. We’re not sure exactly why at the moment, but I can assume it is modern life and being away from home, and the feeling of loneliness. There are 18-20 people typically onboard, all different groups and nationalities and this can sometimes make interactions difficult, especially if they are not so extrovert.”

Source: VPO Global