With the introduction of the amendments to SOLAS regulation V/19 making the carriage of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) under SOLAS chapter V Safety of Navigation mandatory, as proposed by NAV 54, the BIG question now is how and when to implement the ECDIS and ’Paperless Navigation’ on board vessels. Waiting until the last applicable dates may seem to be an obvious choice but obvious choice is not always the best choice. Paperless navigation has proven to save costs (eventually), enhance safety on board and attract quality manpower. Can such factors definitely offset the cost of implementation?
The three most important concerns of a ship owner/ ship manager in terms of priority are the cost of operations, the safety of operations and the retention of crew. These concerns will be discussed in more detail below.
Cost of Operations
The single most important factor for a ship owner/ ship manager is to maintain his competitive edge in the shipping industry that is still recovering from the recession. The most common agenda point during any group discussion is the measures needed to reduce costs of operation. Thus incurring any additional expense that is currently not mandatory will have to be justified with sound logic. Costs can be subdivided into two categories, namely, direct costs and indirect costs.
With the implementation of ECDIS (paperless navigation), direct costs are known to decrease although it takes time because users have to gain sufficient competence in order to realise the full potential of ECDIS and the tools available in paperless navigation and therefore the benefits. There are elements of the system, for example, Pay as you sail, any chart anywhere anytime, and all charts updated at all times, that will ultimately eliminate the need to maintain worldwide or even regional folios, to send paper NTMs , and for other notifications in analogue form. All these and several other factors collectively have a potential to lower effective costs by as much as 15-20% .