Inside NMS - Interview: Kagan Kongar
Newport Maritime Service’s (NMS), Chief Technology Officer, Kagan Kongar takes time out to answer a few questions about how the purpose-built NMS platform has been developed and how it will help the ship repair and maintenance industry adapt for future business.
What is so significant about the NMS platform?
It is the first (AFAIK) structure focusing mainly on vessel maintenance and retrofitting via multiple partner shipyards all around the world.
The platform is a frontend (or the user interface) of Newport Shipping, a London based company experienced in ship repair, maintenance and retrofitting.
NMS platform is actually a large-scale web application backed by a professional office staff.
What does NMS bring to Newport Shipping?
Besides a number of benefits to the users; NMS brings amenities for the three major edges of Newport Shipping. These are easy planning for docking and retrofit operations, deferred payment options and dealing with local laws and regulations.
NMS makes these operations not only easier but sometimes simple manageable. It also simplifies complex background operations and hides some of unnecessary details. On average, the planning of a repair task takes months. NMS cuts that time to hours. Monetary operations and necessary calculations, again, if done via NMS, is much faster and simpler.
One important problem of conventional ship repair/maintenance tasks is the lack of transparency. The ship manager and the yard are never 100% in agreement; both the tasks and the budgets are always debatable and points of argument between the parties. NMS is transparent. All operations are listed clearly, details and more importantly prices are agreed on; after the approval of the quotation by the parties, no room is left for further disagreements.
How has the platform developed, and what were the challenges?
There are a number of major components working together inside the NMS platform. Each does have its own merits and challenges.
The primal part of the system is ship maintenance and repair module. The main issue about that was the standardization of items, procedures and prices. There are more than 1000 possible items for a repair/maintenance task; some are carried on differently among shipyards, some under different names and some non-existent at all. We first created a common and accepted set of items and definition which both shipyards and ship managers agreed on. This was the engineering part of the module. Displaying all these on a web page as a structured data entry form was a totally different challenge; making it work for mobile devices was not a lesser one.
Similar challenges were faced for another part; the retrofitting module. “Retrofitting” means different things to different people, and its coverage is almost infinite. By definition, retrofitting is “adding (a component or accessory) to something that it did not have when manufactured”. However, for our practical purposes, it means “adding a component to a vessel to make it compatible with current environmental regulations”. Newport Shipping is focused on what is called “environmental retrofitting”. We standardized retrofitting options too and currently offering four different solutions for a better environment and a better compliance.
The main challenge was to make all different pieces work together and this brings us to today.
How has your previous experience helped develop this platform?
I’m experienced on large-scale systems, generally with -some kind of- internet access and/or user interface. These systems employ some kind of data storage and data operations procedures in background and -preferably- an easy-to-use interface on the front, accessible via internet while keeping the security as a primer concern.
So, coding NMS is coherent with my previous experiences, however, maritime industry was not. I literally knew nothing about shipping industry, especially docking, repairs, controls, retrofits etc. I had no idea about the environmental aspects of shipping nor the direction the sector is heading to. I even did not know the ship types, sizes, units, the jargon in general.
So I studied. After months of heavy labor, now I’m at least able to communicate with industry professionals without losing my dignity. Still a very long way to go and millions of things to learn; but I’m ok at the moment.
As of today, with the help of my team, I’m very much able to keep all things running while developing necessary additions.
How can a digital platform help shipowners meet with environmental regulations?
The shipowners (naturally the ship managers too) are in a constant rush to keep up with the rapidly changing environmental regulations. At last, there are some environmental regulations, and they’re being quickly adapted to changing situations.
However, keeping a running vessel compliant with the ever-changing environmental regulations is complicated, time-consuming and costly. This must be done with a minimum loss of active vessel time to keep business running. Here is where NMS shines. The tedious tasks of planning the maintenance routes, selection of shipyards according to those routes, setting times and most importantly detailing the tasks and creating budget quotations can be done in minutes with NMS.
One other problem is the retrofitting itself. Vessels need retrofits to be compliant with the regulations. New engines, new exhaust gas cleaners, ballast water treatment systems or even utilizing wind power. These are custom tailored appliances and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Therefore, planning and executing these are much more complicated than the normal maintenance operations. By using NMS, the details of retrofits, costs and expected times can be set and obtained almost instantly. NMS gives you a head start for retrofitting and eases the overall operation significantly.
What is next for NMS?
Next is the digital integration with partner shipyards all over the world. At the moment, data transfer between the shipyards and the operations centre is generally a manual task; time-consuming, error-prone and slow. We will be trying to create and implement a data integration scheme. We’ll assist the shipyards, if need arises during implementation on site.
The other “next” is the integration with global vessel positioning systems. Thanks to the overdeveloped satellite technology, we’re now able to track each and every vessel. We’ll implement a system both for the shipowners and the shipyards to track the vessels of interest for a better planning and control over docking operations.
For sure, the “next” will be on the agenda after the “current” is perfected.