The shipping industry’s guide to ensure and go beyond compliance with proper documentation.


IMO member states are welcoming the concept of moving from paper to electronic record. This shift allows shipping companies not only to ensure compliance but to improve business performance.

We can all agree that it is important to enhance maritime safety and prevent pollution, but it also takes a lot of hard work! To achieve compliance, shipping companies are seeking to invest in digital tools and by doing so, they also have the opportunity to go beyond compliance.

The workload to achieve compliance onboard vessels is becoming time consuming, and this is something shipping companies must deal with in a smart and efficient way to stay competitive.

Several digital tools have already seen the light of day, and you need to prepare your setup now, so you are ready to face tomorrow’s challenges and demands for documentation and compliance.

So let’s dive into it and see how you by digitalizing your records for Port State Control Inspections can improve your business (without heavy investments).

1. Prepare your documents for PSC Inspections

A Port State Control (PSC) survey not only includes inspection of machinery and equip­ment such as the deck and engine. It also involves verifying of several ship certificates, documents, technical details, and structural elements of the ship.

The Port State Control Officer starts out by checking relevant PSC Documentation and certificates during the initial inspection. If your documents are well prepared, available and not falsely maintained, you can avoid a more detailed inspection.

Examples of documents which are typically checked:

  • Trading certificates (validity, overdue, timeframe and well arranged)
  • Test certificates
  • Previous PSC reports
  • Safety Management Certificate
  • International Tonnage Certificate
  • Documentation abt. Order for spares or services
  • Work plan and rest hour documentation
  • Crew certificates
  • Flag endorsements

During initial inspection, your official logbooks are checked to see if they are correct and up-to date. The Oil Record Book is a key document, and it is important to make correct entries every time. Signatures and format such as date, operational code and item number are always checked.

Any errors will cause unnecessary problems with Port State Control and the most frequent Port State Control detention deficiency is actually the result of anomalies with the Oil Record Book.

The PSC officer may inspect the Oil Record Book onboard and compare the entries with the tank sounding log to understand the correctness of the records. He may also make a copy of any entry in the book and require the master of the ship to certify that the copy is a true copy. This copy is admissible in any juridical proceedings as evidence of the facts stated in the entry.

To avoid a more detailed inspection, it is important to demonstrate that the master and crew are familiar with essential operations relating to the prevention of pollution. To assist in this, many shipping companies implement an Environmental Compliance Plan including training.

2. Optimizing internal workflows

Digitalizing your internal workflows enables you to keep your fleet in total compliance with rules, regulations and inspections – which means no detained ships. You can even lower the costs of documenting, sharing, and analyzing data.

In addition, when you transition from a paper-based system to a digital record keeping system, you are able to manage and control your fleet more efficiently. Thereby, you achieve reduced costs, improved efficiency, and compliance across your entire fleet operation.

We all know that tasks vary from the engine room to the head office, but in order to improve workflows throughout the entire organization, it is important that everyone collects their information in one place and follows the same procedures.

For instance, the accessibility of digital logbooks helps everyone in the organization follow procedures and guidelines, thereby ensuring high standards and stability.

Access to these logbooks and other relevant documentation can also reduce accidents and increase safety levels because everyone is informed.

Digitalization helps in creating a ship management culture designed to ensure compliance with MARPOL by focusing on minimizing the conditions that may lead to non-conformities.

Other advantages include:

  • Less deficiencies related to logbooks, such as Oil Record Book or Ballast
  • Preventive actions to avoid detailed inspections and detainment
  • Powerful Data Analysis Tools
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Full availability of the records

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3. Reduce the administrative burden onboard your vessels

Moving from paper to digital record books means that calculations that before were filled in manually in Excel are now digitalized and connected directly to other relevant data. With a digital record book, the crew onboard can rely on the system for automatic calculations.

Digitalizing your record keeping reduces the administrative burden by eliminating a lot of spreadsheets and collecting all relevant data in one system. This centralization will result in less mistakes from the crew and optimize procedures onboard your vessels.

Logbooks are often needed on shore side, and the electronic format makes it easier to handle verifications and reduces the burdens both ashore and onboard. With a digital logbook, you will never lose or misplace a logbook again and can always retrieve your data.

A digital logbook also allows you to implement an 6 alarm system by setting the parameters you want to monitor. By doing this, you will never oversee critical data nor hot spots.

With an efficient electronic logbook, you can:

  • Ensure compliance with current regulations
  • Increase crew awareness about onboard operations
  • Increase ashore awareness about bilge and sludge handling and production
  • Reduce onboard paperwork with smart and error proof pre-coded entries
  • Have all the logbooks, BDNs and receipts available and ready both onboard and onshore
  • Store tank soundings and Record Book operations in the same environment
  • Enforce company procedures and achieve a healthy safety culture
  • Manage seals efficiently
  • Log breakage of seals and trace this procedure

4. Moving from compliance to business improvement

Shipping companies often set a goal of reaching compliance, but what if you – without additional costs – could do more to improve maritime safety and spare the environment? A digital tool allows you to go beyond compliance.

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