With all segments affected by systemic overcapacity and constant additions to the world fleets bringing down the lifespan of the average vessel, today’s shipowners operate in an environment of unparalleled cost-pressure. Charterers have their pick of vessels, and owners face a continuous need to identify and pass on cost savings to their customers.
One way to achieve this is through a streamlining of maintenance schedules, saving crew man-hours and materials. But the benefits of keeping a vessel competitive for as long as possible far outweigh any drawbacks, and owners must strike a balance between cutting back on unnecessary maintenance, and putting assets at unnecessary risk – and it is a thin line.
Cutting or streamlining?
Reducing maintenance to the bare minimum, and only intervening when a problem arises, is not a recipe for savings, but for unplanned expenditure, Pål Vidum Standeren, Concept Developer of Jotun’s Marine SeaStock, explains. “Onboard maintenance is often carried out at short notice without a great deal of planning,” he says. “This may lead to an insufficient coating result. The appearance of the coating may look good for a period of time - but will the performance of the coating meet expectations?”
Avoiding these risks requires a measured and holistic approach – and a great deal of expertise. Manufacturers will be best-placed to anticipate when a coating needs to be touched-up in order to keep the vessel’s surfaces safe from corrosion, and as such, a dialogue is key. “Shipowners should look at whether their suppliers can help assist them with their maintenance planning,” says Standeren.
As in many aspects of ship operation, a long-term, holistic approach to efficiencies, rather than a short-term, reactive one is amply rewarded. “If, for example, an owner is willing to spend a little more money on doing a proper job during the newbuilding stage, they will most likely save money the first few years in trade when it comes to onboard maintenance,” Standeren says.
A continuous dialogue
Business reviews is one way to keep an open dialogue between the paint company and shipowners, measuring factors such as the number of coating orders and comparing these with the average across the market, or with sister vessels. “Most paint manufacturers will claim to provide value-adding solutions but ultimately it’s about the quality of the solutions and services they provide, and meeting customer expectations – it’s not just about the paint,” Standeren explains.
A global delivery service is also important for owners when choosing their sea stock supplier says Standeren. “This ensures that additional paint will always be on-hand where and when required, and as well as helping owners cut down on extraneous maintenance intervals through collaborative dialogue,” says Standeren and adds, “the leading manufacturers are also making a concerted effort to develop coatings technology to elongate the time between recoats through organic means. Designed for easy application, the coating systems are engineered to cut the consumption of paint significantly, by keeping corrosion at bay for longer.”
Reducing crew workload
The fewer applications required, the less inevitable paint wastage incurred in its application, and the more efficient the use of seafarers’ time argues Standeren, who also recommends operators to use an onboard maintenance manual paint guide. “Such a guide enables the safe and efficient process of paint application. The tricky part is making sure the practice is embedded as a way of working onboard ships, and that’s where paint manufacturers can help make a difference.
“Services such as the provision of onboard maintenance manuals, customer business reviews, smart paint systems and global delivery networks, all play a part in partnering with customers and helping them achieve safe and sustainable operations,” Standeren concludes.