Early adopters: Stolt Tankers embraces the move to digital logbooks

Stolt Tankers’ Quality Assurance and Investigation Specialist, Pierre Dominé, is leading the company’s move from paper to digital logbooks onboard its ships. In January, he spoke to system provider NAVTOR about the transition and the industry-wide benefits. This is an abridged version of the original article.  

Although the switch from paper to digital logbooks is yet to be mandated, Pierre sees no need to wait. “There’s so much data across a single vessel’s portfolio of record books, and so much potential for gathering all of that together on a fleet-wide basis for better understanding, analysis and decision-making,” he says.  

“However, at present, the standard is an array of large paper books, which officers must physically write in, taking them away from other duties.  

“There’s no real standardisation, and little chance for verification or validation, while sharing documentation (for example, for commercial or regulatory/port authority needs) requires ‘old fashioned’ methods such as photocopying, scanning, and faxing.” 

Change is coming 

On October 1, 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) enabled the use of electronic logbooks in lieu of hard copy records. Books covered by this measure include Oil Record Books (ORB Part 1 and 2), Cargo Record Books, Garbage Record Books, and Record of Fuel Oil Changeover, to name a few. 

Industry progress since 2020 has been slow, says Pierre, but change is gradually taking hold: “It takes time to change behaviour, but seafarers, once they’ve been introduced to a good system, quickly see the benefits in having one application, on one screen, where data can be easily entered, and in some cases electronically captured for validation.” 

However, some digital systems are not yet ‘living up to the potential’. Pierre explains that, across the industry, there are too many ‘advanced PDFs’ rather than tailored solutions where AI and machine learning can drive improvements, enabling benefits such as learning engine trends (and thereby delivering smarter preventive maintenance schedules) and benchmarking across fleets for tasks such as fuel transfers, helping create best practices. 

The future is now 

At the time of writing, Stolt Tankers has installed NAVTOR’s Class and Flag State approved solution on some 60 vessels, with plans to complete the roll out to a total of 105 ships by the end of this year. 

“It’s an excellent tool for the crew and, on the owner side, opens almost unlimited doors of possibility for real-time data monitoring, efficiency, and continually enhanced sustainability. For a business like Stolt Tankers, that is key.” 

Dominé acknowledges that Stolt Tankers has emerged as ‘early adopters’ but believes that, even though there’s no current mandate, other forward-thinking shipowners and operators will inevitably follow suit… and soon. 

“Why wouldn’t they? You don’t send a letter if you want to contact a friend anymore, or fax handwritten work details to colleagues… there are better, smarter, more efficient ways to do those things, and that goes for shipping and logbooks too.” 

“This is a major behavioural change, but one that can lead to major benefits – and not just for crews, but for a broad range of stakeholders. Digitalisation is transforming shipping… and it’s time for logbooks to catch up.” 

The original article was published on published on NAVTOR’s website on January 26, 2023.