You know what they say about all work and no play. The only problem is that if Jack is dull on a ship, it could lead to disaster! Fatigue has been linked to errors in judgement, which could impact the safety of the entire vessel and its crew. This is why rest hour regulations are stringent in the shipping industry. Both the MLC 2006 and STCW 2010 have laid out very detailed requirements for rest hour management.
Apart from the welfare of your crew and vessel, meeting the compliance requirements also means proving that you are following the rest hour guidelines. To prove this to the authorities, you need to produce not just a record of each crew member’s work and rest hours, but also various other documents, including timings of bunkering operations, drill records, tank cleaning records, space entry permits, bridge watch levels and much more.
The Right Rest Hour Software Can Make All the Difference
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Since civilization began to travel via sea, all vessel records have been created and maintained by hand. This makes rest hour management not just a tedious process, but also one that takes up valuable time that could have been more productively used, while leaving the records vulnerable to human error.
Fortunately, with advances in technology, we now have powerful rest hour software that can take this burden off the frail human shoulders and power it with the strength of cutting-edge maritime technology. Now, the only next step is to choose the right rest hour software that puts the control in your hands. So, here are some key features to look for when selecting the best rest hour software for your shipping company.
100% Cloud-Based Solution
Shipping companies deal with probably the most distributed workspaces. Deploying technology and managing data on each ship is a colossal overhead. This can be avoided if the rest hour software is 100% cloud based. This can ensure remote deployment on vessels, without any switching costs from the earlier systems being used. Moreover, a 100% cloud-based rest hour software can ensure almost real-time synchronization of records between ship and shore.
Low Training Needs
Even the most powerful ERP solutions can fail if people find it too complex to use and require hours of training to understand the various features. To minimize resistance to adoption, the best marine software solutions are designed to require minimal training. It should be easy-to-use and intuitive. Also, make sure it comes with helpful video tutorials, a detailed manual and on-screen instructions that aid each step.
There will always be instances when your office or ship staff require assistance with the rest hour software. At times, the need for assistance may be super urgent. When selecting rest hour software, enquire about the customer support provided. Is it only via email or can your crew receive instant support on WhatsApp or phone call? Is the support provided by bots or humans who can understand your specific issue and have experience in troubleshooting?
Compliance Rules and Exceptions
It goes without saying that any rest hour software should help your ship staff record and maintain work and rest hours in compliance with all the intricate rules and their exceptions set forth by MLC 2006 and STCW 2010. However, there are several aspects that need to be managed effectively. These include:
- Remaining compliant in emergency situations
- Adjusting rest hours for watchkeeping vessels
- Handling short breaks and mealtimes
- Altering default hours during port stay
- Adjustments for shifting time-zones during the ship’s voyage
- Effectively managing IDL (International Date Line) crossing
While taking all these into account, the rest hour software should highlight NCs, making it easy for the ship’s crew to rectify the situation. Also, it should allow instant generation of reports for audits.
Compensatory Rest Management
The MLC and STCW regulations also provide very clear guidelines regarding compensatory rest. Rest hour software that enables you to follow these guidelines accurately can minimize chances of the vessel being detained when NCs are unavoidable. Additionally, check if the rest hour software allows you to easily identify crew members who can be assigned tasks without violating the act.
Rest hours compliance and non-conformities (NCs) should be incredibly easy to monitor. The rest hour software should present data such that vessel managers can quickly know the NC status on each ship and can drill down into the particulars of any ship.
There are a few other features that you can check when selecting the right rest hour software for your company. These may be:
- Locking of data to prevent data manipulations
- Easy group entry of work hours for events like drills and bunkering
- Easy planning of work when crew members having dependencies on each other
- Calculate overtime for integration with your payroll system
- Easy tracking of NCs compensated and outstanding
- Flexibility to incorporate other regulations like OPA 90, Japan flag rules, OCIMF and HKMD
With the right maritime technology, your crew’s daily routine will be planned seamlessly, both under normal operational conditions and in emergency situations. This can save you thousands of dollars in penalties and fines as well as delays due to the detention of your ship by port control. Most importantly, the right rest hour software can ensure the efficiency and safety of your entire fleet.